Oriental poppy, Papaver orientale, has vibrant papery flowers in vibrant hues. Poppy flowers are easily recognized and widely used in large displays of colors. Find facts and information on growing and caring for oriental poppies.
Oriental Poppy Facts
The poppy flower comes in colors of orange-red hues to pastel pink, salmon, and white. Oriental poppies are perennials that grow in Zones 3-7. They will reach heights of 18-36” h x 24-36” w. They prefer full sun and deep, fertile, well-drained soil with pH of 5.5-7.0. You should also try to protect their papery flowers from strong winds.
Poppies prefer cool temperatures and dislike heat and humidity. You will find their solitary, dashing red-orange flowers with black splashes in the center, appearing from late spring into summer. Plant the oriental poppy in groups in the border or in containers, or naturalize them in a large, prepared area. The plants will become dormant in the summer and will die back to the ground. *Note that annual poppy varieties, such as the California poppy, are also worth exploring.
Good companion plants for poppies are Russian sage, Snowbank’ white boltonia, and bluebeard.
Plant each poppy 24” apart in autumn or spring. A slow-release granular plant food may be applied when planting in spring. Apply 3” of vegetative mulch in summer and winter to reduce weed seed germination, to retain soil moisture, and to keep the soil temperatures stable. Be sure to water them deeply when the soil becomes dry.
Sprinkle seeds over the soil mix and leave exposed to light, but do not cover them. Thoroughly moisten and keep moist, not soggy, until seeds germinate. Germination occurs in 7-14 days at 65-75 degrees F. After transplanting reduce temperatures to 55 degrees.
Divide poppies in mid-to late summer while dormant and before new root growth starts.
- Divide poppies after blooming when they are dormant.
- Lift the entire plant from the soil.
- Split the clump using a sharp spade.
- Reset portions that contain healthy roots and shoots.
Pests and Diseases
Botrytis, powdery mildew, and root rot are the most common problems with poppies.
‘Allegro’ has red-orange flowers with black at the base.
‘Carnival’ bears crinkly red-orange flowers stained white at the base.
'Raspberry' has stunning raspberry-pink flowers.
‘Cedric Morris’ has crinkly pale pink flowers stained black at the base.
‘Fatima’ is compact, with white flowers and pink edges with a black -stained base.
‘Harvest Moon’ bears orange semi-double flowers.
‘May Queen’ has nodding double orange-red flowers.