Papaver – Oriental Poppy, Iceland Poppy, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers

Papaver - Oriental Poppy, Iceland Poppy, Perennials Guide to Planting Flowers

Papaver – Oriental Poppy, Iceland Poppy

There are Poppies and Poppies, old-fashioned ones and new varieties, and it would almost seem that they grow more dazzling and more gorgeous each year. Perhaps they are grown in a greater number of gardens and we see their brilliant colors everywhere during the early Summer months, or perhaps, we too have learned the secret of growing these delicate silken flowers which constantly command attention. What more startling effect could be gained than by having a mass of Giant Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale) stand out boldly against. a dense background of dark evergreens?

Iceland Poppy
Iceland Poppy

The colors of the named varieties range all the way from silvery-white, through blush and rose pink to salmon and scarlet-crimson, each flower swaying and nodding on long, graceful stems. The Oriental Poppy blooms during May and June grows from 2 1/2 feet to 4 feet high and the whole plant, from the heavy, magnificent foliage to the large flower cups and seed pods, makes a majestic subject. The flowers often measure 9 and 10 inches across. Some of them have a black blotch in the center of the petals and all have a great number of purplish-black stamens in the heart of the cup. P. o. bracteatumisan important variety of deep crimson-red color. The flowers are surrounded by large, leafy bracts. Gypsophila paniculata, Phlox subulata(white) or golden Alyssum are good to combine with the Oriental Poppy as a border plant.

The Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule)are dwarfer plants, growing about 12 inches high. They are also favorites in the garden for the satiny petals of white, lemon, yellow, and orange are beautifully crinkled and have a delicious fragrance. They bloom all through the Summer if the flowers are kept well picked, and either single or double-flowered plants can be grown.

Poppies as cut flowers

Poppies make lovely cut flowers, but unless care is exercised in cutting them, the petals will drop and they will last no time. The flower should be cut early in the morning when the buds are tight, allowing them to open up in the water. They will last several days. The giant Oriental Poppies may be cut either early in the morning, or at the evening, just as the buds are about to open. They will last longer if the outer green calyx is removed.

Poppies are used to a great extent in decorative work where daring color effects are needed.

Both the Oriental and Iceland Poppies are splendid subjects for the perennial border, but should never be planted with other plants unless the colors are carefully chosen. Both are beautiful if planted in large masses by themselves. A good combination may be made with Garden Heliotrope or Valeriana.

Growing poppies

Oriental Poppies will grow in any open, sunshiny position in a good, deep loamy soil. They are of the easiest culture and require very little care. During the dry spells in the early season, they should be watered occasionally, but after they have finished blooming and the leaves begin to die down, they should be let alone for the roots seem to enjoy a thorough baking during the hottest months. When the rains begin coming in September, the roots will show signs of growth; then the plants can be safely transplanted. Oriental Poppies should be mulched in the Wintertime. This mulch does not have to be removed in the Spring for the leaves soon cover it. After the plants are once satisfactorily situated they should be allowed to remain undisturbed for a number of years.

The Iceland Poppies are very easily established for they self-sow very readily. If the flowers are cut every day, the plants will produce flowers all during the Summer months. They are extremely hardy and will grow in any soil.


The Oriental Poppies should be divided in the Fall after the plants have been dormant during the hot months, or in early Spring. The roots may be cut into pieces 2 inches long and planted in sandy soil, in which case new plants may be obtained. Plants may be grown from seed, which requires a great deal of care. The seeds should be gathered as soon as the pods are ripe and begin to open. They should not be sown too thickly and should be wintered over in the coldframe. As soon as new shoots start in the Spring, pot them up, and after they have attained a good size, plant them out in the open soil from the pots.

The Iceland Poppies self-sow readily.

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One Comment

    paul lawrence

    after my poppy is done blooming, can I cut away the leafy portion?

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