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A Guilty Confession

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

A couple of days ago I turned on the news ( Anderson 360) and learned that it would be followed by a documentary on the Opium industry of Afganistan. I decided to watch it for a little while and I am embarrassed to admit that I instantly fell in love with the poppies they were growing for opium. They didn't go into cultivation but I gather they are annuals, but they were absolutely magnificent -- fields and fields of poppies. Some were red with feathered petals at the top and white at the bottom of the petals. They were large and lush looking. Some were all white with petals feathered on top. I think they were singles but they weren't really trying to show the flower.
I have seen what I was told was the opium poppy in the US and it was a deep purple, very nice, but no where near as pretty as these ones in Afghanistan.
I don't plan to go on a crusade to find the seeds, but I would love to grow these, for viewing purposes, not drug purposes. I don't think they are illegal in the US, probably because the work to make opium is obviously something that would have to be done in a third world country where labor is dirt cheap.
On the other hand, I wouldn't mind a bit having a row of these in my garden.
Did any of the rest of you see the documentary. It was quite good, but the flowers were the best part.
My friends all laughed when they found out what I was most interested in was the flowers, not the narco-traffic. But that is the way I am!

Centennial, CO(Zone 5b)

The p. somniferum available for sale in US are required to have < .001% of the opiate alkaloids as the kind used to produce pharmaceutical opium. So if you buy the seeds commercially, you can bet you are in safe territory. Also, the Oriental Poppies are bigger and not a problem at all.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I have found lots of seeds for exotic looking p. somniferum in various respectable seed houses on line. I ordered a few. I have some oriental poppy plants to plant, but I will also have some annual ones in the spring. One of the most interesting was the hen and chicks one.

Long Island, NY(Zone 7a)

I recently saw a photo of a cottage garden with pale yellow poppies that resembled the California Poppy. Does anyone know what this variety might be called and where I could find seeds?

Can I sow them directly in the ground this time of year?


Elmira, NY(Zone 6a)

The ones you saw that were red with a white blotch are available as Danish Flag or Danebrog Lace. The single white fringed I have not seen.

There is no law that says that the seeds of P. somniferum sold in the US can only be low-alkaloid type. In fact, the seeds of some of the highest alkaloid type are sold in the supermarket in the spice section, and yes, they are viable. Poppy seeds are legal to sell, buy, and own. It's growing them that's illegal. However, I have not heard of anyone getting in trouble for growing them for ornamental purposes, and they are regularly mentioned in mainstream garden magazines and sold by large seed outfits as well as small.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Interesting. I tried growing cilantro from the grocery store seeds ( coriander) and got nothing. Perhaps they were irradiated. I will definitely try the Danish flag ones; they are knockouts as well as various others that I have purchased the seeds for. I will also try some from the spice jar -- what the heck! I just want a whole lot of really beautiful poppies. I wish I had a field to sow with them! Of course, that would probably catch unwanted attention. I guess I will have to get by with just a few clumps. That's all the room I have anyway.

Lisbon, IA(Zone 5a)

Here is an interesting site for poppy seeds. I've never bought from them and know nothing about them, but their seeds look pretty good. :)

Hmmmm, it looks like this site has quite a few different seeds. Hmmmm, used for magic. I know nothing about using herbs for magic or anything about magic, except pulling a rabbit out of a hat and that I saw on Frosty the Snowman...

This message was edited Oct 18, 2007 11:05 AM

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

It certainly doesn't surprise me that a magic web site would like poppies. They are very beautiful and almost ethereal at times and some have drug properties.
I have now ordered a variety of poppies, though and found the price very reasonable from Hirt's Greenhouses in Ohio. Their recommendations in Garden Watchdog was only so-so, but most of the negatives came from live plants, not seeds. So I decided to try them:

The selection and prices were excellent. I will post to Garden Watchdog when I have tried growing the seeds.

I can't wait to see clumps of poppies here and there.

Wharton, TX(Zone 9a)

The one thing I do know about poppies is that they need cool weather to germinate. So plant them in very early spring before the weather warms up.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Thanks, fancyflea, I have heard they do well with winter sowing because they also need sun to germinate, but perhaps early enough spring is better than January.

Long Island, NY(Zone 7a)

What is the germination rate like if I direct sow poppies now?

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Don't know. Haven't tried it yet.

Lisbon, IA(Zone 5a)

The only way I've every gotten any kind of poppy to germinate is to winter sow them. If I try to direct sow anything I'm just throwing my money away..

Pontotoc, MS(Zone 7b)

here in the south I have only had luck with the direct sowing . I throw out my seeds in October !

Long Island, NY(Zone 7a)

Hmm, maybe I will try direct sowing some and then starting some "spares" indoors. Thanks, everyone.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

When you direct sow your poppies in October, corgimom, when do they come up?

Pontotoc, MS(Zone 7b)

By January - usually in the middle of the month if we have had nice enough weather. That is when we are supposed to thin them out. I waited too long this year and mine were way too close together ! I must have had 40 within an inch space !!! They don't transplant well here, so we don't bother. I just pull them up and throw them out !

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

I share your love for poppies... and have drooled over them too. I purchased seeds from some gorgeous flowers, papaver somniferum, similar to the ones mentioned by pajaritomt. However, I have opted not to plant any seeds from the species somniferum, which is the opium poppy. After reading the law regarding opium poppies, I just decided to stay clear. I agree with paracelsus, and don't think any honest gardener would be prosecuted, but stranger things have happened. Here's a link to some eye opening reading. Be sure to read "LAW" regarding growing opium poppies. It sounds as though law enforcement is not concerned about folks like us... but you could be prosecuted if law enforcement wanted to make a point. Just thought a heads-up might be appropriate.

Well, the link is not going directly to the poppy page, so you will have to look for it. The rest of the link is /plants/poppy/poppy.shtml

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the information. This is just the kind of thing I was looking for. I will probably grow some poppies, but probably won't ingest any of the seeds or any other part of the plant. I do love poppy seed cake and muffins, but I buy them -- I guess I am too lazy to bake my own. Poppy seed cake has been common in Western culture for generations. I do, from time to time, hear of people flunking drug tests because of a poppy seed muffin, but I have never seen any mainstream reporting of it.
I had also heard that opium was hard to become addicted to because it causes nausea. Unfortunately, I don't think heroine and cocaine do the same. The story about the young man dying from poppyseed tea is very sad.
I will probably go ahead and grow some of the papaver somniferum seeds, but not in quantities likely to interest the police. But forewarned is forearmed. If I get in trouble it won't be because no one told me.
By the way, a friend once gave me a few of the papaver somniferum dried pods on stalks which I kept in a dried arrangement. Then I moved and the arrangement ended up in the garage for a while. When I went back to get it, the mice had eaten the pods and the seeds. Wonder how they felt afterwards!

Mableton, GA(Zone 7a)

I LOVE the beautiful annual poppies. But I can never get them to grow. I even bought some plants from Annie Annuals, but the plants dried up an died. I think they sent them to me (a first timer with poppies) WAY too late. They knew I had never grown them and where I was located and still said they would be fine. They sent them to me in June. Hello, they are cool season plants! I should have read more about them, but they had to have KNOWN they wouldn't grow in the summer in GA. I got one tiny Danish Flag bloom out of $70 dollars worth of plants! (VERY high shipping) It was so exciting though. I LOVED it and looked at it every one of the pityful 3 days I had it.
Anyway, after realizing I needed more info. on them I started looking on the internet. Then read enough to realize I wished I hadn't! Lots of info. on them being used for drugs, and now the Gov't can trace that I looked at it!!! Apparently, they can prosecute it they want to for any amount. One man went to prison for MANY years for having a 10' X 10' patch. Supposedly they don't really care about gardeners, but don't make any officers man! The funny thing is, I have an ex-narcotics cop across the street!! LOL (Funny 'til I'm busted for my gardening.)
Still, I'm going to try again. I ordered seed off ebay. One seller has a wealth of knowledge (how much must she grow?) and responded well to my many email questions. For GA, she recommended to fall/winter sow. She kept insisting that they were easy, easy, easy to grow. I think they just know about the cop so they won't grow for me ;) . ebay is a great source for seed and plants. Home growers have never disappointed me, and the plants are usually large and very healthy. I've never gotten a bug or fungus from them. Just check the sellers feedback.
If you do decide to try the seeds on ebay, don't type in "opium", because it won't come up. The word is restricted. Type in the botanical name. Good luck. They are so very Beautiful, Whispy and Magical looking!

P.S. I'll try to find the seller I bought from if anyone is interested. Just Dmail me.

edited to add the ebay sellers name : exjordanary

This message was edited Nov 30, 2007 12:54 PM

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Best of luck on your poppies. I ordered seed from some online place that sells a lot of poppy seed -- Hirt's garden. Their prices were good. Here you can winter sow them and they will come up in the spring, I hear. I haven't tried it. It is snowing today, maybe I will go out and sprinkle some seed. Anyhow, I have decided not to worry about the police, though that may not be wise. When I lived in Santa Fe, many years ago and marijuana was becoming all the thing, a Santa Fe policeman arrested a famous and elderly dancer of world renown for having a station wagon load of "marijuana". He protested mightily and they even broke his arm. It turned out to be a station wagon load of marigolds, so I don't have a lot of faith in the botanical skills of the police!
Nevertheless. I am going to sprinkle poppy seed here and there and see what I get. Maybe if I don't put it in patches or rows the police won't realize what it is. My husband has always worried about my grow light because, I guess that's the way marijuana growers are found -- with heat detectors. I may be taking my life in my hands, but I will continue to plant my bedding plants under lights -- except the poppies which I hear do better planted directly in the ground.
I am glad to hear that you like buying on plants and seed on ebay. I have been tempted but never succumbed. Maybe, on your advice, I will give it a try. I have had good luck on ebay with lots of other purchases.
As long as they sell poppyseed cake and muffins, I am going to guiltlessly grow poppies, even opium ones.

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