Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Opium Poppy, Breadseed Poppy, Lettuce Leaf Poppy
Papaver somniferum

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Family: Papaveraceae (pa-pav-er-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Papaver (puh-PAY-ver) (Info)
Species: somniferum (som-NEE-fer-um) (Info)

32 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Category:
Annuals

Height:
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Spacing:
12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Hardiness:
Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Danger:
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pink
Rose/Mauve
Red
Purple
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:
Blue-Green

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 48 photos.
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Profile:

8 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive wendymadre On Mar 22, 2012, wendymadre from Petersburg, VA wrote:

Papaver somniferum grows well in Zone 7A, central Virginia, for which I am grateful as I have no luck with the perennial poppies. Gardeners here share seeds, which I have heard are not available commercially, due to the potential for making opium. When the seed pod dries, little holes appear along the top and it becomes a seed shaker. That way you can harvest the seeds and keep the pod for dried flower arrangements, too.

I had saved seeds (in the refrigerator) from several years, and I decided I'd better plant them before it was too late. In early October, I strewed them in a new area in the yard. Because of the summer heat and humidity, it is recommended to plant the seeds in the fall, not in the spring. Now in March, I am having to thin out the baby poppies-- I hate having to throw them away, but they do not transplant well. They will be two to three and a half feet tall, bright pink and red.

There is a point where the pod is not yet dry enough to harvest, when the poppies do look pretty scrappy. Best not to plant them in a bed where that is going to be a concern.

Positive anelson77 On Jul 2, 2009, anelson77 from Seattle, WA wrote:

Scattered packets of several cultivars of these in rainy, chilly March. They were nearly invisible until June, when they shot up and quickly bloomed. Planted in a watered, sunny, fertile soil area they are 4 feet high with flowers 5 inches across in purples, pinks, some puff balls and some with large satiny petals. They bloomed at the same time as the delphiniums, making a spectacular combination. The ones in dry, infertile areas are much smaller, and smaller flowered, but still gorgeous. The flowers don't last too long but they make up for this with heavy bloom. The seed pods are interesting looking.

Positive milkbonehappy On Oct 9, 2007, milkbonehappy from Chester, VT (Zone 5a) wrote:

My sister-in-law had a dried floral arrangement with some striking large pods in it. I figured it was some type of dried poppy pod, and I made a small hole and extracted some seeds to see if they'd grow. To my delight, they did grow quite profusely in my garden in the New England. I waited too long to pick the pods for drying however, and they burst open and dropped their seeds. I think you should pick the pods while still green and hang them to dry if you want the pods for floral arrangements, rather than waiting for them to dry on the stem. They like full sun - mine were in afternoon sun only and were leggy and needed staking to avoid flopping over. While trying to identify this plant on-line, I found websites where people describe using the pods (purchased at a craft store!) to make an opium tea. One person even became quite addicted to it, and described ordering large quanties of the dried pods from on-line sources. I think you'd have to grow many more poppies than would be possible in the average garden in order to get any kind of habit going, but be warned that there is abuse potential with this plant.

Neutral WUVIE On Mar 25, 2007, WUVIE from Hulbert, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This poppy received a neutral from me only because
of the legalities it comes with.

Quite frankly, I find the breadseed poppy to be gorgeous.
The sad thing is that it can be used (and don't ask me how)
to make drugs. Those of us who merely wish to grow
the plant for it's beauty are subject to the rules, regulations
and laws created because of those who have other
intentions.

I grew these last year and worried that I would be made a
public spectacle, I could envision my name in the public
record section of the newspaper for possession of
narcotics or something. Sad, but true, so I mowed them
down and instead now grow Oriental Poppies.

But if you feel you live in an area where the authorities
have a bit of sense about them, plant away.

They are beautiful. Sigh.

Neutral Ordelia On Jul 31, 2006, Ordelia from Banner Elk, NC (Zone 6a) wrote:

Beautiful plant, but you'll pay little attention to the blooms because of the slugs if you live in a wet area! Perhaps the slugs get something other than food our of it :)

Neutral vsf On Jul 7, 2005, vsf from Oakland, CA wrote:

Blossoms are gorgeous when they first open, intense purple with an interior that is almost chartreuse.

Alas, we had an uncharacteristically rainy spring, and all my poppies are badly infected with powdery mildew. I get good bloms for about a week, and then the mildew hits the buds. But I will plant this again next year.

Positive PurplePansies On Jul 2, 2005, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

Papaver somniferums are easy to grow satisfying annuals which produce attractive blue/green foliage (like cabbage) and pretty flowers. Papaver sominferums come in such an array of colors and shapes they should be easy and / fit into any garden. Pods are also decorative and used in dried arrangements. Some varieties i.e. blue Hungarian and Peshwar/persian white (white seeded) are particularly good for eating (poppy seeds) (hence the name "breadseed poppy". It is also the poppy used for opium (sapped extracted from seed pods after "milking" cutting the pod and waiting for sap to come out.... then collecting) but I'm sure most gardeners don't use it for that reason! :)

Positive Dodsky On Jul 2, 2004, Dodsky from Smiths Grove, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

I've grown a few varieties of this type of poppy over the years, and the flowers are always a beautiful springtime sight. I only wish the growing habit was a bit tidier and easier to deal with, the plants tend to break or topple easily if left unsupported. Each flower lasts for only a single day, but each plant usually produces several blooms in succession over a 2-3 week period.

The only pests I've encountered when growing this plant are aphids. The black aphids love this plant and can cause yellowing and deformed leaves and buds if left unchecked. Powdery mildew can also be a problem but it usually doesn't do too much damage unless it's an unusually cool, wet spring.

Keep in mind if you let this plant go to seed you will have poppies popping up for years to come (all over the place! lol).

Neutral CatskillKarma On Jun 18, 2004, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

In the neighborhood of Brooklyn NY where I used to live, Greenpoint, there were several importers of seeds and spices. Wherever a bag of bread seed poppies spilled, they sprang up in the cracks of the sidewalks. They always flowered lavender, with paler markings near the center, and had crude weedy-looking foliage. Very vigorous--I assume these seeds had been irradiated or fumigated during the importing process, but they were still viable.

Positive lerrin On Jun 17, 2004, lerrin from Canton, IL wrote:

I found an opium poppy growing in an area used in the past as refuse for grass clippings, wood, etc. I was taken by the beauty of the plant, and began trying to identify it. I found it on this website. After seeing it a 2nd time I suspected it was of the poppy family. I live in Illinois, the midwest and really never expected to see one growing in this state or in a wooded area.

Positive suncatcheracres On Sep 6, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I've only seen these plants once, in a large garden in Point Reyes, California, where in September the beautiful flowers were turning into huge seed pods you could shake like a rattle. Spectacular, colorful flowers.

Positive AusTXpropagater On Sep 5, 2003, AusTXpropagater from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

In Central Texas, poppy seeds sown in Fall will germinate in early winter and form basal rosettes. An ice storm on February 25th did not cause significant damage. My plants bolted up and bloomed in March -- spectacular, but for only a couple of weeks. By late May they had already produced ripe seed pods. These annuals do not stand alone well (in zone 8 - hot) but contribute beautifully to a mixed flower border.

Neutral Baa On Aug 15, 2002, Baa wrote:

An annual that has been cultivated (and naturalised) for so long no one is sure of it's region of origin.

Has oblong, lobed, blue green leaves. Bears large, saucer or bowl shaped, red, lavender/purple, white or pink flowers. After flowers come the decorative seed heads hich are initially blue-green, drying to light brown.

Flowers mainly June-August.

Loves well-drained, fertile soil in sun.

Excellent reseeding annual.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

,
Chugiak, Alaska
Hereford, Arizona
Topock, Arizona
Chowchilla, California
Concord, California
Hercules, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Oakland, California
Reseda, California
Santa Cruz, California
Grand Junction, Colorado
Orange Springs, Florida
Farmersburg, Indiana
Ossian, Indiana
Louisville, Kentucky
Prospect, Kentucky
Burton, Michigan
Roswell, New Mexico
Elba, New York
Himrod, New York
Southold, New York
Banner Elk, North Carolina
Painesville, Ohio
Toledo, Ohio
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Salem, Oregon (2 reports)
West Newton, Pennsylvania
Conway, South Carolina
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Murchison, Texas
Chester, Vermont
West Dummerston, Vermont
Kalama, Washington
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)



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