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Papavers - what to sow when

Papavers - what to sow when

Papavers (otherwise known as poppies) are beautiful flowers to include in your posies. They are divas in that they are pretty fragile and their flowers don't last for ages, but their ephemeral nature to me is what makes them so precious.

I'm so in love with them that I've dedicated one of my raised beds to nothing but poppies for the next 12 months to see what I can grow.

Tip: plunge them into boiling water after cutting for 20 seconds to prolong their vase life.

I ALWAYS get confused about the different types and when you can sow them and expect them to flower, so thought I'd make a note here for myself - and anyone else that might find this useful!

Post to be updated as I learn more!

Note: Add plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to the soil prior to planting, mixing it thoroughly and deeply.

Papaver orientale 

Hardy Perennial. Height 75-90cm. Space 40cm apart.

These are so beautiful with huge flouncy petals in gorgeous colours and flower early in the season. (Some of these coming in our December Flower Kit!)

Sow under cover September - April or direct sow May - September in beds that get full sunlight.

After flowering, cut back to ground level.

Flowers May - June.

Varieties I am growing: Choir Boy, Coral Reef, Checkers.

Papaver nudicaule - Common name - Icelandic Poppy.

Biennial. Height 45cm. Space 20cm apart.

Can be grow in part shade as well as full sun.

Sow June - August for flowers early the following year, or sow under cover February - March for flowers that will bloom the same year.

Flowers June - September

Varieties I am growing: Artists Glory Mixed, Champagne Bubbles

Papaver rhoeas -  Common name - Field Poppy.

Annual. 70cm high.

Sow February - March and Sept - October.

The flowers are four bright red petals with a black spot in the middle. Other colours also available - I'm growing Amazing Grey to flower next year.

Flowers May - October. 

Varieties I am growing: Amazing Grey, Common Poppy

Papaver somniferum

Hardy Annual. Height 90cm. Spacing 30cm. 

Sow in 5mm drills March-May and/or late August-September.

Dislikes root disturbance so for best results direct sow where you want it to grow then thin as they begin to grow.

Varieties I am growing: Black Beauty

Handy Guide

If you want a poppy to sow every month....

January  - Papaver orientale (under cover)

February - Papaver rhoeas (under cover), Papaver nudicaule (under cover)

March- Papaver somniferum (under cover), Papaver nudicaule (under cover)

April - Papaver somniferum (under cover)

May - Papaver somniferum (direct sow)

June - Papaver orientale (direct sow), Papaver nudicaule (direct sow)

July - Papaver orientale (direct sow), Papaver nudicaule (direct sow)

August - Papaver orientale (direct sow), Papaver somniferum (direct sow)

September - Papaver somniferum (direct sow)

October - Papaver rhoeas (direct sow)

November - Papaver orientale (under cover)

December - Papaver orientale (under cover)


If you want to sow three times a year:

Feb - sow all varieties under cover, ready to transplant into the garden after last frost

June - direct sow Papaver orientale and Papaver nudicaule

September - direct sow all varieties

Places to buy

The Floral Project :) (will be included in our December Flower Kit)

Plants of Distinction - Put 'Papaver' into the search bar

Sarah Raven -

Chiltern Seeds -

Hope this is helpful - please feel free to share if so!




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