How to Grow Poppies from Seed
Growing your own poppies from seed is something that is not only easy to do, but will fill your garden with the most beautiful flowers year after year. While some poppies are annual and some are perennial, all poppies will happily self-seed and replicate themselves year after year.
Poppies are wonderful flowers that aren't terribly fussy about ground or soil conditions, and which will grow and grow with minimal care.
Many annual poppies will happily self-seed to give you a continued display year in year out.
Poppies make great cut flowers for the house, but they are also such happy little flowers they will brighten up your garden no end.
There is nothing nicer than looking out from your window and seeing a patch of poppies happily growing away, bringing color into your garden, and lightness, even on a dull day.
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One of the great things about growing poppies, is that they really aren't fussy about soil conditions. So if your soil is acidic or alkaline, boggy or free-draining, it really doesn't matter, poppies will still grow.
They grow well in wetlands and can survive droughts, and they always pop their little flower heads out, brightening up a dull day.
Poppies do like to grow in a sunny location, or in an area that catches the most sunlightin countries that don't see much of the sun, but they will tolerate partial shade.
The only thing the poppy doesn't like is being exposed to strong winds.
Even in the traditional cornfields where poppies grow wild, poppies seek the shelter of the corn which towers over them and protects from the wind.
Poppy seeds are tiny. Each poppy seed head contains thousands if not millions of seed, which when left to nature, feeds birds and small mammals through the winter.
The rest are carried away by the wind to re-grow wherever they settle.
Birds spread a lot of poppy seeds far and wide from where the original poppy flower was grown. This can make poppies grow like weeds in some areas.
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Sowing Poppy Seeds
When growing your poppies from seed, choose a dry, windless day, preferably a day after rain has fallen.
This will mean the ground is nice and damp. Poppy seeds, like every other seed, like to be watered in, but poppy seeds are so tiny they are likely to get washed away!
if you sow the seeds when the ground is already damp, your seeds will stand a much better chance of surviving.
Sow your poppy seeds in the spring once all risk of frost has passed.
You can also sow them in the autumn to imitate nature, but the danger comes from a late warm spell which may signal the seeds to germinate, and the seedling may then be killed off by a cold winter.
If, however, after sowing them in the autumn the weather continues too cool, the seeds will lie there dormant until the spring, when as the weather heats up you will notice tiny poppy seedlings growing. You can then add some form of protection in case of a late frost.
A cloche, or even straw, for example, would be perfect for protecting those little poppies.
If your poppy seedling are too close together, you may want to thin them out to allow each plant the space to reach its full potential.
Too many plants crowded together will result in weak, spindly growth.
Try to leave 6 - 12" between your plants.
If you carefully dig the seedlings up rather than just pull them out by the roots, you may be able to transplant them to another part of the garden.
When growing poppies from seed, it is worth giving your poppy plants a bit of space.
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Poppy Seeds Uses
Poppies are beautiful flowers.
Apart from brightening up your garden year after year, they make excellent cut flowers for a few days (the flowers never last very long anyway).
You can also save the seed for use in the kitchen.
Poppy Seeds in Food
Poppy seeds are commonly used commercially in seeded bagels, and are sold dried for cooking. Poppy seeds can be added to many dishes. They are typically used in the making of curries, for their pleasant, nutty flavor. In Europe, poppy seeds are commonly ground down to make a paste which is the basis for many cookies and candies.
Poppy Seed Oil
Poppy seed oil is also widely used in pharmaceutical industry. It is also used in the making of soaps, paints and varnishes and in the kitchen in many culinary dishes. It is high in vitamin E and has no narcotic properties. It lasts longer than other plant oils and has a pleasant, mild taste. Poppy seed oil is commonly used as a salad dressing.