Rock Tavern, NY

Hi everyone,

I bought two packets of poppy seeds this winter, but I didn't sow them. When would be the best time to do this? Am I too late for this year and have to wait until next? Or can I sow them now and plant them in the garden in the fall?

Thank you so much!

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Do you know what kind of poppies they are? I don't know the answer for your zone (?) but there are a number of types, might help... I have some that I want to put in - perennial 'Coral Reef" oriental poppies that I think I'm going to try the coffee filter trick on.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I've sown poppies as late as the 2nd week of June with so so results. Best results for me is to sow in the fall or early spring as soon as the ground just starts to thaw. Happy poppy growing!

Rock Tavern, NY


I'm sorry, that would have been helpful information. I live in zone 5b/6, depending on whom you ask up here. I treat it like 5b. The poppies are Flemish Antique and Black Peony.

Thank you for your help!

Centralia, MO

what is the coffee filter trick?

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

It's a rather effective way of germinating at least some seeds - you put your seeds in a moist coffee filter (not dripping, you know) and seal it in a ziplock bag. The seeds germinate and you transfer them (verrrrryyyy carefully) into soil.... wah-la...!

Brooklyn, NY

Yes...what iS the coffee filter trick?
Also...the black peony sounds amazing.
I am waiting to hear from some Himalayan blue seeds that apparently take a few weeks to germinate.

Centralia, MO

is it the same as the "paper towel" trick then?

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Yup, but I've been told that the roots tend to get much more entangled in the fibers of the paper towel... not that it would be that big of a deal - you would just plant the bit of towel with it, but there are some purists, lol....

Or you could use the cheap towels I use!

You're so welcome!

Centralia, MO

I have a package of coffee filters I haven't used as I don't drink coffee at home anymore (1-2 pots a day 5 days a week is enough!) so I'll put those to good use.

If a packet says 7-14 germination, when can I expect to see the seeds "popping" in the coffee filter/paper towel?

(Sheryl) Gainesboro, TN(Zone 6b)

Well, they don't exactly pop in the filter, they just germinate - grow roots from one end and (hopefully) the beginnings of leaves in the other.... but it should be about the same rate as in the soil, perhaps a little faster because you can see what would normally be happening underground.

However, if you have "easy" seeds - like Zinnias, Marigolds, etc. - IOWs, ones that will germinate that quickly, you may want to direct sow them in the soil (as long as you can remember to keep the soil wet for that long) only because of the least amount of handling of the seedlings, the better off you are IMO.

Smithfield, NC

I have some Himalayan blue seeds - 10 to be exact - i have been waiting for the perfect time...
Do you ( http://davesgarden.com/members/njackojacko/ ) remember how your seeds did or anything about it.. i know it was a long time ago.. since I only have 10 I guess I'll do 3 or 4 seeds and see if they work over the winter. Any other suggestions??

Calgary, Canada

Keep the seeds in the frig so they stay viable.
Here I would start them in February,but maybe earlier for you as you are warmer climate.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Molly ~ I did not know you could grow Himalayan poppies in the south or other warm summer climates. or do you live near the coast in a cool-summer area? It is way too hot and dry here in the summer, as we have been in the 90's for about a week now.

Calgary, Canada

In warmer areas,you might need to use misters when it gets very hot.
Mine have stood up very well,but we seldom go above 80F .
I have misters ready ,but did not use them.
Himalayan poppies need to be grown in the shade in hot areas.

Smithfield, NC

My poppies are germinating!! This is year 4!!!! I'm not sure which ones yet; I do know the drama queen hot pink are working... I'm going to put my last 2 Himalayan poppy seeds out today. CL SCOTT - I'm putting them in the shade. Evelyn - I am near the coast. About an hour. Thank goodness! I'll keep yall posted! thanks!

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Awesome, Molly! Good luck!

Calgary, Canada

We shall want to see pictures and hear about the progress of the Himalayan poppies. Please?

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6b)

If you want to plant them directly into the soil, you might try using toilet paper instead of paper towels.
This trick works well for tiny seeds such as Brassica & Daucus seeds also.

Clear the garden area to bare dirt.
Dig a shallow trench about 2 inches deep.
Fill the trench with damp sand and firm it down flat.
Unroll toilet paper on top of the sand.
Spray it with water to make the paper really wet.
Lightly press a shallow groove into the center of the wet toilet paper. (use a dowel rod, yard stick, etc)
Place seeds in the shallow groove.
Cover with another layer of toilet paper.
Spray it with water to make it all stick together.
Cover it all up with a light layer of soil or sand.
Keep watered.

It gives you perfectly straight rows, and the white paper makes it easy to see and move seeds to the exact spot where you want them to grow.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Oh, what a good idea!

Brilliant idea! I was just checking today on when to sow P. rhoeas and P. somniferum (paeoniflorum). Will have to remember this at sowing time in a couple of months.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Poppy s. s/b planted now in my humble opinion. The seeds like the cold.
I'm in zone 6b and my poppies are about 3 inches tall already. They re-seed on their own. They germinate and grow little seedlings by October and stay green all winter.
Boy, every one has an idea as to how to grow those pretty flowers, Poppy!

Hmm - I have about 5" of snow on the ground at the moment and my last frost date is a little over 2 months away. I'm thinking you're right though about the P.s. going out before last frost. The seed packet (Select Seed) was rather vague about "spring".

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

I've been told you can sow them in the snow, they may just not end up where you expected, lol

The plants like the cold, heat kills them, just like the frost kills others. Here we sow them in the fall or winter. That way they are up and blooming before it gets too hot. Spring is a season but that season is diffent in different places.

If sown now on top of snow, with my luck those seeds would travel and I'd pull them in the spring, thinking they're a weed. My compost which never gets hot (in the shade) does sprout some weed seeds.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I especially like the idea that toilet paper over some fine-grained layer will give a very flat surface to sow onto.

Right now I direct sow into soil with small clods (peds) and voids or crannies. Unless I lay down a layer of vermiculite, an y one seed might fall on top of a small clod, or into a crevice between clods. That might be as much as 1/2" difference, so I wind up trying to sow at 1/8" depth, and instead get 0 - 5/8" depth.

P.S. For an y one kind of Brassica, like Bok Choy, I have seen advice to direct sow anywhere from 1/4" to 3/4".

Does anyone know what factors other than seed size make deeper, or shallower, sowing more desirable?

That would be interesting to know. I surface sow leaf lettuces to grow indoors in the winter and the stems always look like they need another 1/2" of soil around them. Same with foxglove.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Especially indoors, I like the idea of adding a layer of coarse mulch on top of the moist soil surface. It dries quickly after a watering, and supports stems without encouraging mold or gnats.

As usual, I like bark nuggets.

I like that idea. Wondering perlite would work as well as the wood mulch?

Cincinnati, OH(Zone 6b)

Planting depth is subjective and based on a lot of factors.

Available food in the form of carbohydrates in a seed is the most important factor. Opposite ends of the spectrum are legumes and grass seeds. Legumes can be planted VERY deep and survive, but grass has virtually no food reserves and will only survive if firmed into the soil surface no more than 1/8" deep.

The other factors depend on how well the planting medium is able to provide the seed with adequate moisture, support, oxygen, and protection.

With limited energy to produce roots and shoots, a seed planted too deep won't have enough energy to break through the soil and will just starve to death before being able to produce it's own food.

Seeds need moisture for the chemical processes of germination to take place, so using a fluffy or coarse mulch DEFINITELY helps small seeds survive and do well by preventing the soil from drying out. A mulch also provides additional support and protection from excessive sunlight, wind, and physical injury.

Soil porosity is critical, simply because seeds require oxygen to germinate. If soil is too dense, such as clay, there's no air space available for seeds to get the oxygen that they need. Waterlogged soil has the same effect as dense clay, in that it prevents the seeds from getting much needed oxygen.

For germinating small seeds, just plant them shallow in a firm, but porous soil. Then cover the soil with a mulch, such as pine straw, wheat straw, bark chips, or even perlite. If you are worried about them drying out, then loosely cover the mulched seedbed with an opaque plastic for a week or two. The goal is to prevent the soil drying out.

My paying job often forces me to work long hours and travel, which makes gardening a challenge. Without the convenience of a predictable schedule or being retired and able to babysit newly planted seeds and cuttings, I always rely on mulch and plastic to keep my new plants alive.

rockhntr - thanks for that info on seed energies. Never stopped to think on it much. I generally provide humidity for seed germination with clear plastic lids until those babies sprout.

Victoria, Australia

Poppies are flowering perennials that thrive in full sun and grow in a clumping habit with pale to medium green foliage that has a distinctive branching pattern. The flowers bloom in late spring and early summer on long, thin arching stems in hues from white to pink to deep crimson and orange. At maturity they reach 3 feet in height and spread with blooms that can be 6 inches in diameter when fully unfurled.

Poppy seeds can be started during one of three different time periods or methods: They can be started indoors during the winter by sowing seeds into soil-filled grow trays or pots, watered, and held in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse with good strong light until the last frost has passed. This will give you a jump-start on seasonal bloom of a few weeks or more. The second option is to sow the seeds indoors but to wait until the spring to do so, again moving the plants outdoors after the frost has passed. The first and second options allow for full seasons of growth and bloom, even in colder climates. The third option, which is most commonly used in more moderate climates, is direct sowing of seeds into outdoor soil in the spring when the chance of frost has passed.

nelson - I would prefer to start poppies indoors where I can take better care of them instead of leaving them to our unpredictable spring weather but I've read that they're fussy about transplanting - they don't like their roots disturbed much. Any truth to that rumor?

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

Not all poppies are perennials. In Texas it is easiest to direct sow the seeds in the fall/winter or VERY early spring as the heat of summer will kill the plants. Cindy, I've heard the same thing but I don't know if that applies to all types of poppies. What kind of poppies are you growing?

I am winter-sowing P. orientale 'Pizzicato'. I also have P. paeoniflorum (somniferum) 'White Cloud' and P. rhoeas 'Mother of Pearl'. These last two I was thinking of direct sowing since I'm not sure about the transplanting trauma. I could sow the indoors in newspaper cups so I can plop the whole thing in the ground but wasn't sure about needing cold to get them to germinate. I'm pretty new to poppies as you can tell.

Liberty Hill, TX(Zone 8a)

It is my understanding, but I may be wrong, that the seeds do not need cold treatment (stratification) to germinate. But i've only grown Corn Poppies and CA Poppies from seed. They are a cold/cool weather plant. So while some plants succumb to freezes these succumb to heat. But like I said above there are many types of poppies and I'm not sure if they are all this way, they are all beautiful. IMHO

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Perennial poppies (Papaver orientalis) are tougher than you think..they can handle transplanting rather well. If you are trying to increase your stock you only have to dig in and around them. Cut roots atleast two inches long and place horizontally in the soil, they will grow... It's usually the reason for them growing into patches, plus if they like they're conditions they will also reward you with reseeding. I started indoors in winter and plant them out in the spring. They should bloom second season. Also in mid summer their foliage disappears til fall.

I am now growing perennial Papaver o. Coral Reef (10-11 days to germinate), P.o. Marlene (5-7 d.). I have had sporadic reseeding of others thus far and love where they just pop up, and I dig and move when needed.

The Annuals: somniferum, and rhoeas, (which I will start at the end of the month), indoors. Personally, I've not had great sucess having them reseed, but is probably more to do with my location in the garden I suspect.... I have also bought them in the spring in 21/2" pots, jammed packed...Just be careful when seperating them, but it can be done. I usually repots (211/2" pots), til they show new growth and have gotten past transplant shock, (a few weeks maybe). I have grown these under lights in the past and will be seeding many vatieties this spring, ok in the next 2 weeks).

If wanting to use Poppies as a cut flower, burn the end of the stem or place in boiling water, if not they will wilt.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

Pix 1 is P. somniferum Lauren's Grape
Pix 2 is Coral Reef or Queen Elizabeth both from seed
(sorry pix weren't uploading before)

Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy Thumbnail by warriorswisdomkathy

I did winter-sow P. orientalis in 2011 and transplanted them carefully into the garden. They did come back last spring but disappeared over the summer and reappeared in the fall but no flowers. I'll have to see if they come back this spring but I am growing more.
wwk - thanks for that info. I think I will start the annual types in paper pots indoors which will hopefully give them a jump start in the garden.

Kiowa, CO(Zone 5b)

They should bloom this spring for you! Yeah!!! :)

Post a Reply to this Thread

You cannot post until you , sign up and subscribe. to post.