Growing your poppies from seeds will grace the empty spot in your garden and give glorious colors to the surrounding. Perhaps you have seen large poppy plants and wonder how they can get like that? I tested growing poppy under different conditions, and the results just blew me away.
Sowing poppy seeds on stone cracks with little soil under the full sun will produce a shorter plant, fewer leaves, but flowers fast in one or two months. On the other hand, seeds planted in a vegetable bed with sufficient soil under the partial sun will grow into a massive plant with many leaves and buds. However, they will take longer to flower.
You can grow poppy even just on stone cracks, but that will produce only miniature plants. Do you want to know how to grow gigantic poppies? Read more below. But first, we will learn about poppy plants.
Poppies are herbaceous, flowering plants that belong to the family Papaveraceae with more than 50 general and more than 800 species. They are often grouped as annual spring flowers, self-seeding, and return every year.
In regions with high temperatures like the western United States, they can grow through the winter and flower again during the next season, and thus they are called perennials. Their blooms vary from white, pink, and purple, and others develop multicolored flowers.
The blooms can be as huge as 15cm across, although some are smaller. Large poppies include Papaver Somniferum, Papaver Rhoeas, Meconopsis Grandis, and Papaver Orientale.
There are small poppies such as Papaver alpinum that grows up to 26cm tall, and the Eschscholzia minutiflora or the pygmy poppy about 35cm tall.
To understand the effect of the growing environment on poppies, I used the Papaver rhoeas or Corn poppy. I planted the seeds in my backyard in three different locations and conditions:
1) Cracks: Seeds planted along the cracks of the slab concrete pathway with little multipurpose compost and under the full sun (6+ hours).
2) Flower bed: Seeds planted in shallow flower beds with nutrient-poor soil but exposed to full sun for at least 6 hours a day during summer.
3) Vegetable/Raised bed: Seeds planted in a vegetable bed filled with the same multipurpose compost where carrots were growing. It receives partial sun (less than 6 hours).
Poppy grown in floor cracks: The seed planted on the concrete cracks developed into a tiny plant roughly 1.5 feet tall, with slender stems and four pairs of thin leaves in a month or two. It also formed one blooming flower as small as 3cm 6 in diameter and one small flower bud.
Poppy grew in the flower bed: On the other hand, the poppy seeds in the flower beds under the full sun grow successfully with healthy foliages and dazzling floral displays. The plant has a length of around 2-2.5 feet, and the biggest blossom is close to 9-10 cm across.
Poppy planted on the vegetable bed: At the same time, the seeds on raised beds developed large plants. The poppy there became massive with around 3- 3.5 feet tall, heavy stems, and more than a dozen pairs of greenish-grey leaves.
In addition, a single plant developed up to a dozen flowers. These took way longer to bloom compared to those on a crack.
Healthy poppy spends lots of their initial time and energy developing lots of foliage and thick and sturdy stem to sustain them. Hence, poppy grown in ideal conditions will flower way later than poppy plants under stress.
Flowers are the way for a plant to reproduce. If a plant is under stress, it will flower earlier to achieve its ultimate purpose and pass on its DNA. This then explains why poppy grown on crack flowered very quickly. Their lifespan was way shorter than those on a raised bed, and they did not have much time.
Poppy planted between floor cracks developed in miniature versions of themselves due to the limited soil, water, and nutrients. The amount of soil they grew upon was so small, just a few grams, that the roots could not grow much.
This also explains the correlation between leaves and flowers. The fewer leaves were due to a smaller amount of soil, water, and nutrients the plant can take. In turn, it means that the poppy cannot grow many leaves (it does not have the environment to sustain that). This, in turn, limits the energy the plant can produce and so the size and number of flowers.
The poppy plant growing in a vegetable bed has all the resources needed for successful growth despite having lesser sunlight. Its soil is sufficient for the development of the roots, meaning water and nutrients are adequate as well. As a result, the poppy plant came out massive and vigorous with plenty of buds.
In case many fast flowering poppies are desired, then it is sufficient to plant them in a poor and a small amount of soil. This will stress the plant under “survival mode,” developing quickly and flower fast.
On the other hand, in case lots of flowers are required, just plant a few plants in a generous raised bed. However, the flower will take the whole season.
The 7 elements that make poppy grown massive are:
- Soil volume,
- Type of soil,
- Soil nutritional and pH value,
- Sowing time,
- Light and temperature, and
- Variety of poppy.
While most poppy plants will grow in different climates, there are some key points to consider to achieve a positive yield. Here are the factors you should consider to grow massive poppies.
Poppies will flourish well with sufficient soil volume into their root system can freely grow and extract adequate moisture and nutrients. Increase soil volume by using raised plant beds.
Sprinkling a few seeds on a vegetable bed (be careful, poppy seeds are extremely tiny, so you do not want to overdo it) can be a great idea to add some color to your vegetable patch and attract pollinators. Bees love poppy flowers.
As a result, the poppy plant will grow massively due to a decent supply of moisture and nutrients.
An abundant water supply made available to the plants during the growing season will give a positive yield. Periods of growth such as germination and stability, vegetative growth, flowering, and seeding require proper watering time and rate.
One primary factor contributing to the growth of massive poppies is water resources. The medium must remain damp but not wet throughout the germination period to avoid drying out of seeds.
Appropriate watering can prevent the risk of water loss that can cause stunted growth in the plant. However, supplying water in the advanced will not alleviate the effect of slow growth. Although the plant will still grow, the goal of having a large poppy plant is unattainable.
When the plant matures, watering can be infrequent but abundant. Always check the soil moisture by sticking your finger 1- 2 inches below the soil. If it is dry, consider watering your poppy plant. If moist, allow the soil to dry a bit before watering.
Loose soil that holds moisture is the appropriate medium for growing massive poppies. Non-compact soil allows the roots to penetrate without restricting their growth and enable the water to drain quickly. Poppies taproot cannot withstand waterlogging, so avoid using a soil mix that will harden.
A plant bed of well-composted materials is ideal for growing large poppies. This type of soil is not prone to compact, drains well, and retains water effectively. Poppies do not favor firm soil that drains and holds water poorly.
Soil such as dense clay will hinder the roots from passing through, making the roots impossible to develop, resulting in poor plant yield.
It is not necessary to fertilize poppies. A balanced amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in the soil is ample enough to contribute to the development of poppies’ roots, leaves, stems, and flowers. Also, papaver rhoeas prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 8.0. So a neutral soil (pH of 7) is perfectly fine.
Poppies like neutral to slightly alkaline soil. The pH value of the soil plays a vital role in plants when extracting nutrients. Soil having a low pH diminish the availability of most macronutrients. To grow massive poppies, the pH value must be maintained in neutral or alkaline and not acidic.
In temperate regions, poppies are planted in autumn or early spring and wait for the following summer to enjoy the burst of large, vivid flowers.
It is vital to plant poppies early enough to ensure adequate vegetative growth before blooming. An effective strategy is to sow seeds earlier so that the plant can have plenty of time to develop before rainfall decreases and the temperature becomes higher in late spring and early summer.
Sow poppy seeds in early spring if you’re in regions with cold winter. Germination is high during this time as the temperature is favorable and the sunlight is adequate.
However, in warmer areas such as Arizona, sow seeds in late fall when the temperature gradually decreases. Planting poppies at the right time is crucial to yield gorgeous blossoms.
Sow poppy seeds between 15C to 21C (60F-70F) for better seedling growth. Seeds sown under high temperatures will germinate slowly. Mature poppies require at least 6 hours of full sun.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, poppies below 21C will produce more leaves than those with access to higher temperatures. They are capable of growing faster as the large leaves can capture more light, synthesizing more food. It also explains why sowing seeds in scorching summer is not a great idea.
Poppies planted under optimum temperature are likely to grow large leaves, but flower development will take longer. The time to flower is increased in plants grown under cooler temperatures. Poppies under higher temperatures with more sunlight will flower easily.
Not all poppies are equal in size. Some common varieties like Orientale Poppy, Corn Poppy, Opium Poppy, and Himalayan Poppy can get very large in the right conditions. They grow tall, ranging from 3 feet to 8 feet, with flowers that measure up to 5 inches across.
You can choose from various large poppies, including perennial, annual, and biennial flowers. They all came in bright, cheerful colors. If you want to grow a poppy with the largest flower, choose the Opium poppy.
However, if you want a tall-growing poppy, opt for the Himalayan poppy. The Orientale poppy has a large and glamorous bloom, while the Corn poppy has a huge blossom with thin and showy petals.
- One of the most essential factors in growing large poppies is the amount of soil as demonstrated in the experiment.
- Poppies thrive in full sun, but the environmental temperature must be lower for germination to take place. The ideal sowing temperature is 16-20 degrees celsius. Sowing under high temperatures will result in poor germination.
- Water is an essential component contributing to the successful development of a poppy plant.
- “Papaver,” University of Vermont
- “Pygmy Poppy,” California Native Plant Society
- “Soil pH and liming,” Cornell University.
- “The growth and development of Poppy Plant,” U.S. Department of Agriculture
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