California Poppy

The California poppy is technically a perennial, though it is often grown as an annual. They produce vivid displays of yellow, orange and red, and have a fern-like foliage and can produce flowers for a long time over the summer, keeping the garden lovely and bright – as long as there is enough sun.

Growing poppies:

California poppies, as the name implies, like warm sunny conditions. They should be planted in full sun and like a rich, fast draining soil. They will tolerate poor soil conditions, however there will be more blooms if the soil is more nutrient rich. These flowers will survive periods of drought, which makes them perfect for gardens in parts of the UK where water in the summer months is not in abundance, or anywhere that water conservation is an issue.

Adding some organic compost or well-aged manure to the soil before planting your California poppies is not strictly necessary in most cases but will help to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. The seeds should be sown in early spring, when the soil is still cool and a light frost is possible. It is also possible to plant in the Autumn if you have a mild winter, though this is probably not such a good idea for more northerly reaches of the UK. It is best to always sow the poppy seeds directly as they do not like root disturbance. Seeds should germinate in between ten and fifteen days.

If you plant some California poppies in your garden then you can expect them to self-seed, but not to the degree where they are ever likely to become weeds. Leave some faded flowers on the plants in order to allow them to go to seed as you approach the end of the season. Throughout the rest of the season you should pick blooms to ensure a prolonged flowering period.

Try to avoid overhead watering whenever possible to try to cut down on instances of moisture-related diseases. Space poppies around 10 to 20cm apart in all directions as overcrowding can also lead to problems.

Why grow poppies in the garden?

California poppies are perfect for a drought ridden or water conserving garden, sowing just how much delightful colour is still possible without much rainfall. They are a good flower to choose in dryer areas of the UK and can be used to great effect in southern planting schemes.

They are flexible and can be used in a variety of different garden types, from large garden bed displays to small container gardens. Due to their low water needs, California poppies are perfect for container gardens on sunny patios.

Towards the end of the year you will have fun listening to the seed pods cracking open with quite a loud retort as you sit outside on a sunny afternoon.

California poppies also help reduce aphid problems by attracting beneficial predatory insects.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Eschscholzia californica