WS and Poppy Newbie

I'd like to try WS for the first time with some oriental poppy seeds which will hopefully be here in another week or so. I do have some questions and have been going through some of the threads on this forum to search for the answers.
Is this a good time to WS oriental poppies or should I wait another month or so?
From what I've read, one needs to be careful transplanting due to the long tap root. Can I sow the seeds in paper pots?
Should I cover the seed with soil? I plan on concocting my own soil from peat, vermiculite, perlite and mushroom compost with no added fertilizer.
Don't have milk jugs but I can come up with a comparable setup. When using milk jugs, does one keep the caps on until later in the season? If so, would this be early spring?
Thanks for your patience and help since I'm sure these questions have all been asked in the past.

Garner, NC(Zone 7b)

I'm going to jump in here and help you as far as I can. I have ws mostly annual poppies, but tried orientals last year with some success. As far as the soil you're planning to use, I used pro mix for mine and that seemed to work well. Hopefully someone with more experience using a personal mix will have more advice on this.
I like using clear soda bottles for poppies simply because it lets in maximum light and is easy to cut away when transplanting the poppies out. Paper pots are not generally deep enough for ws and tend to dry out too fast. You can plant out hunks of seedlings when putting them out into the garden to avoid disturbing the roots as much as possible. So if you see the 'hos' method for transplanting, this is what is being referred to. You may lose some of them, but will have much better luck with the transplanting percentage overall. And no, you don't leave the lids on.
Poppies need light to germinate so don't cover the seed. Press them gently into the top of the soil instead. You should have wet your potting soil already so you don't scatter them all to the side of your container by watering them in right afterward.
Much more info on ws in the stickies at the top of the forum. Dive on in and start begging for planting containers like the rest of us. It's addictive:))

Thanks so much for all of the info! I was scanning so many of the WS threads re: poppies, picking up bits but I had other questions that I couldn't find answers for (sadly, impatient).
How deep should the soil be in the WS container? I do have one pop bottle from the holidays that I saved. Will have to look for more containers. My organic milk only comes in 1/2 gallon cartons as does our OJ so no luck there.
I've read a little about the hos method. Does one thin out the seedlings once they've been transplanted to the garden site?
Are the oriental poppies warm germinators, waiting until temps hit the 60's or 70's or will they germinate at lower temps?
Thanks again for the advice.

Columbus, OH

I'm an annual poppy person. They germinate better when it's cool, and I use newspaper pots for ws'ing poppies, because they dislike root disturbance, I just plant the whole thing. I do at least two flats of poppies, and the paper pots are 2" in diameter, snuggled up against one another. I learned the hard way that no matter what pen or marker I use, you won't be able to read anything written on the paper containers. Use a plastic marker.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I've never had issues with planting poppies. i can't recall if i ever did a large milk jug and divided the 'chia pet' of seedlings... but i know last year for sure, i use qt sized [Dean's H&H] for my poppies and sour cream [ Daisy ] containers ... and just plunked the whole clump of them in the ground. no issues with roots at all.

I do believe mine were always annuals.

>>How deep should the soil be in the WS container?

3-4" of soil.... i think most of mine turn out to be about 3.5"
you need to gives the roots room to roam.

1/2 gals are just fine. I use a lot of those, since we dont use that much milk [gallons] anymore.
those Juice jugs are good too... it doesn't have to be milk per se....

The milk and juice both come in cardboard containers instead of plastic. I'll scrounge around to see what I can find that will hold 3 1/2 inches of dirt. I want to punch holes in the bottoms, right?

Garner, NC(Zone 7b)

Yes, do punch holes in the bottom of plastic containers for sure. I put my soda..or other plastic containers in a cardboard box. Keeps them from blowing around or from dogs knocking them over. It also keeps them from drying out so quickly. I compost the cardboard when I'm finished with it.

Another good tip! Thanks to all for being so patient and helpful!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

i do the same as bev with the boxes.

also, those waxy cardboard juice boxes... you can use those too. I just cu the tops off high enough and cover with a siran or sorts and a rubber band to hold it on. Some use ziplocs over the tops

I'll see if i can't find an image of that... i know i used those boxes in 07.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I did not have one that was taken earlier in the season, when the covers would still be on... but you can see 3 of the waxy cardboard type boxes in the middle of the image..... once it warmed up, I trimmed the sides down so the seedlings got more sun.

Thumbnail by tcs1366

Ohhh - did you cut the tops off the milk cartons and then set the tops back on? Since they'd block a lot of light, when would you take the tops off? Thanks for that picture!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

>>milk cartons and then set the tops back on?

are you referring to the waxy cardboard ones?

actually, no -- I didnt put any tops back on.

I'll post more images .....

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

here is a tray of coneflowers.

the pans are sort of shallow, but they have a domed lid.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I found my poppies from last year. these are all sour cream containers.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

These are zinnia seedlings... I thin the containers were lunch meat containers from Sams... they had a lid, but the problem was, as you can see in the one that is still covered -- the lid is not a dome, and i filled the soil up to about 0.5" under the lip... so there was really no room for growth... i had to keep the covers off once they germinated. if i use them again, i'll not add so much soil.

Thumbnail by tcs1366

So the milk cartons would have no tops at all on them? They're left open to the elements? (Forgive me for being stupid.)

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

here you can see some half gals, and qt sizes along with Cottage Cheese and Yogurt
the qt size were Odwalla Juice containers.

sometimes i just buy the product for the container... the juice works well in protein shakes.

Thumbnail by tcs1366
Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

no -- dont leave them open to the elements... you can cover them with saran wrap - pokes holes in it -- and you'll have to secure it down, tape or rubber band, or ziploc bags upside down... think of them as mini-green houses.

I wish i had taken photos of those... but didn't.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

anotehr container i use a lot of are... those #2 deli containers, like for salads. they have clear lids on them... poke/cut some holes, or slits... work like a charm.

i do think there is a thread on "containers".. i'll see if i can locate it.

and the only dumb question is the one not asked... we all were new at this at one time.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

here is the Sticky ... lots of good links

Containers - it gets a bit chatty, and not a ton of photos... but a few.

containers #2

Terese - thanks for posting those links. Now I'm sure I can find enough containers for my poppies. I even remember two gallon containers of distilled water and white vinegar that are close to empty as well. I'll be making up my "own" potting mix later today so I'll be ready when those seeds arrive. It'll be a fun experiment to see if I can pull it off.

Garner, NC(Zone 7b)

Great pics, Terese! Yep, we'll have another ws convert in no time. Nothing more exciting than seeing little green seedlings coming up in the cold when nothing much else is happening in the garden.

tggfisk - no convert yet. :) I still love starting the seeds (mainly perennials) under the lights in Jan or Feb. From what I've read, poppies hate transplanting and they need cold. Since I can't sow the seeds in the beds (currently covered with last fall's leaves and snow), this technique might be useful. I mean, I only have so much room in my fridge. :) again

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

Trust me... you shouldnt have problems transplanting Poppies.

leap of faith... or try them both ways and see which one performs better.

when transplanted when they are small, you should not have an issue with the roots.

Terese - Thanks for all of the encouragement and answers!

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

ya just have to try it once... and you'll be hooked.

I think in my 4 yrs here, doing WSing... i think i've seen 2 people who were not happy with their results.. and probably over a hundred who were ecstatic. so the odds are pretty good....

You mean I might win the lottery???

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)


Garner, NC(Zone 7b)

If ya mean the poppy lottery...You just might, lol!

I am so ready to start these seeds as soon as they arrive. I keep watching the mail.

Oh crumbs! One more question. My seeds have arrived and I even received a free packet of annual poppy seeds. And of course, there are 3 different species - orientale, rhoeas and paeoniflorum. Would all 3 be treated in the same manner with WS? Sorry to be a pest.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

I'd treat them all the same.

and from what i've read from others... dont go by the directions on the packet.. those are usually for in doors sowing.

I'd do my poppies now thru early March if I had some to sow.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Hey guys. I still have two feet of snow and more coming. I cut two gallon milk jugs in half, filled 2/3 with seed soil, some polymer crystals and some osmocote (just a bit of each) watered, sprinkled poppy seeds (annuals and meconopsis) sprinkled just a tiny bit of soil on top (per dratted envelope instructions) and out back up against the garage. About 12 inches from a big snow drift. Only place not buried in snow. Obviously they will freeze solid, but I guess (hope) the theory is that they will eventually begin to warm and thaw as the days get longer and warmer. I looked up the germination time and if it works, then I should see germination somewhere between May and August. lol. It should be fun for a first try. It was -5 degrees here this morning.

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

just plain Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

Hey Wisconsin, you guys are no slouches for bitter cold. Apparently not as bad as say Minnesota or North Dakota?? My profile says a 4b but I am in a micro-climate up here so I am really more like a 5a, but the cold seems to last longer. the zones only seem to measure top and bottom ranges of cold, but not duration. that has thrown me quite a bit in trying to compare with other gardeners that are theoretically in my same zone. I am probably a good two months behind all of you. :(

Leesburg, FL(Zone 9b)

My "WI" is more of a zone4a i think. that is my mid-apr thru mid-oct address. When everything is toast up there, i can come home and enjoy the end of the season here... I usually have things blooming in Early Nov sometimes.

WIsc has much colder night time temps then we do down here. but sometimes, COLD is COLD once you get below 20f or so... i'm getting whimpier as i age.

I guess I can't complain here. Bet gardeners in AK have to go in for the plants that bloom quick and produce edibles in a short time span. Have seen some gorgeous garden photos though and everything always looks so healthy. Good soil?

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I am no expert on soil, just judging it by whether things grow well or not, but I would have to say on a whole that it is very good. Out in the Matanuska Valley they have peony farms, apple orchards, wheat growing, etc. And the occasional musk ox farm. lol. I went to the state fair in Palmer and it was pretty impressive. We always gape at the prize winning pumpkins and other vegies that weigh in at over 100#'s easy. Pumpkins that is. I only garden flowers here in Anchorage. And yes, when I do try a vegie or two (peas, beans, carrots, broccoli) I look for the short maturation ones, like 65-75 days. I start the tender stuff (vegies and flowers) indoors under lights April 15 and plant out June 1. I experimented last year with planting dahlia tubers out the middle of May, the logic being they would not be exposed to frost (if it came) before June 1. But the ground is so cold. I guess the advantage is that they are 'hardied' up naturally. I am trying winter sowing for the first time. I just have to make some adjustments for our duration of winter. I put out flats of poppies which are really hardy here, last fall. They are under snow now and I regret not putting the tops on them. As the snow melts it will fill the flats with water (no holes in the bottom). I guess I will wait until snow is melting down to the point I can trudge out there and find them along the stone path I put them on and carefully dig them up, cap them and put them on the back deck. I got a soda from Barnes and Noble yesterday and realized that, with its top, it is a totally clear little greenhouse. Enough for one or two seeds anyway. I thought to try the WS thing with a couple of nasturtium seeds as it will hold about 3" of soil with 2+" of clearance and a lid. I would have to check but I think everything is frozen solid by the middle of October and snow isn't clear to April 30 or so. But that leaves frozen dirt for a while. I shoveled my raised bed out front last year free of snow in a desperate attempt to get sun to the soil. It had to have helped as there was still over a foot of snow on the ground around them for weeks after.

Sounds definitely tough to garden up in AK. DD is contemplating a move from TN to MI and there will be quite a bit of zone adaptation for her.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

As long as she isn't heading to to UP, it won't shock her senseless. I visited in Paris, TN for five months, from Feb to June 1980, and about died. Between the heat and the humidity I stayed indoors most of the time. My dad had moved there and he had garden plots everywhere. He was disappointed that spring bulbs didn't seem to do so well. We guessed it was too hot.

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