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Corn poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Poppies have been cultivated by humans for thousands of years. The ingredients of some poppy varieties were once used as a sleeping pill. Today, opium poppies are mainly grown for the production of opiates. Cultivation for private use is prohibited or requires a permit. However, this does not apply to the countless other poppy species. The easy-care plant is very popular in the garden because of its large, showy flowers in red, white or pink.


There are many different poppies for the garden, all of which have special properties.

  • Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas), native species, annual, red
  • Seed poppy (Papaver dubium), annual, red, pink, white, mostly in flowering meadows
  • Turkish poppy (Papaver orientale), perennial shrub, large flowers
  • Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule) , short-lived, self-sowing, for cooler regions
  • Spanish poppy (Papaver rupifragum), perennial, flowering May - September
Turkish poppy, Papaver orientale

Growing poppies from seed

Poppies can be sown directly outdoors or grown indoors. There is also the option of self-seeding. Below you will find out what you need to consider for each option.


Poppies are easy to grow from collected seeds. In the garden he also likes to sow himself if the flowers are not cut off after they have faded. New species can be brought into the garden with seeds from the trade. The flowering time depends on when the poppies are sown.


If you want to sow poppy seeds in spring, you should prepare the seedbed well. The seeds are very small and prefer a fine, crumbly soil. To make sowing easier, mix the seeds with some sand and then scatter them broadly. The seed does not need to be covered as poppies germinate in the sun. Just press the poppy seeds down to ensure a good connection to the ground. Sowing takes place in March or April.

After the plants have emerged, it is important, especially with larger varieties such as the Turkish poppies, to thin out the plants to a distance of 20 to 30 cm. This is not necessary for small, annual poppy varieties.

cultivation in the house

Theoretically, the poppy can also be grown indoors, but this brings little advantage over sowing outdoors. Separating and planting out the poppy seedlings is very difficult. It is possible to grow poppy plants if they are then planted individually in the garden with a larger soil ball.


Poppies can be sown in autumn. Then it blooms particularly early the following year. Frost does not harm the seed. When preparing the bed, you can mix some compost under the soil. However, this is not absolutely necessary on nutrient-rich soils.

self seeding

Once the plant has settled into the garden, it usually re-seeds itself. With certain cultivated forms, however, it can happen that the new plants have a different flower colour. Only hybrids have particularly bright flowers. Their offspring tend more and more to the original flower color, which is mostly red.
You do not have to sow perennial poppies or poppy plants every year. To prevent them from spreading uncontrollably in the garden, it can make sense to cut off faded flowers before seed pods can form.

collect seeds

Poppy plants are very suitable for collecting seeds for the next sowing or for propagation. After the flowers wither, seed pods form on the flower stalks. You can collect the seeds when the capsules are completely dry. When you shake it, you can hear the seeds inside. It is best to cut off the capsules directly on the stem. You can then shake out the grains. They must be kept dry and will retain their germinating power for the next year or more. If the seed pods are not cut off, they will tilt down and the seeds will fall out on their own.

Iceland poppy, Papaver nudicaule

location and soil

The poppy prefers a sunny, warm place, only then does it form beautiful flowers. Icelandic poppies or other poppy varieties for cooler regions also like to grow in partial shade.


Poppies are easy to care for. The soil should be neither too wet nor too dry. The plant prefers loamy, nutrient-rich soil as long as it is permeable. So that the poppy plants are not displaced, care must be taken to ensure that the first sowing is largely free of weeds. Later, the flowers are very robust and can also assert themselves against other plants.


When sowing, the seed should be watered. Even after that, the soil must remain moist, but not wet. If the plants are larger, they also tolerate slight drought. Poppy plants form taproots, with which they can fetch water from deeper soil layers. In longer periods of drought, you should water the plants from time to time.


The poppy does not require fertilization. In flowering meadows, it even grows on poor soil. Too much fertilizer can crowd out the flowers with other plants. Perennial, large poppy plants get a compost dose in autumn.

To cut

A shape cut is not necessary. However, withered plants should be cut out regularly so that the perennial remains floriferous and does not waste energy on seed formation. Annual poppy plants should not be cut. After flowering, the whole plant withers.

diseases and pests

Aphids are often found on poppy plants, but these can be easily combated with home remedies. Natural measures such as the promotion of beneficial insects make more sense than the use of pesticides. If the location is too wet, fungal diseases must be expected. Downy mildew or poppy smut are possible. These can be combated with antifungal agents or cut out. The preventive administration of plant manure can also be helpful against pest infestation.

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