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Poppy Cultivation Instructions

Poppy is a common name for plants in the Papaver genus. Within this group there are annuals, perennials and biennials. Their summer flowers may be fleeting but they’re often big, blousy and a wonderful addition to any garden in May and June. The larger oriental types are popular with gardeners. They have hairy flower stems and foliage. Flower petals can be ruffled, crimped or shaggy. Flowers range from white, pink and red and measure about 15cm across.

Poppies will grow in most soils but for the best results grow in a well-drained soil in full sun. They’re happy in alkaline, acid or neutral soil. The larger, perennial oriental poppies are perfect for a border. They flower in May and June and once the flowers have gone over the foliage also dies back. The foliage will have a second lease of life in August. Plant them alongside low-growing perennials that will fill the gap in July when the foliage dies back. Hardy geraniums are ideal. Poppies are rarely planted in containers and perform much better in the garden.

Annual poppies are easy to care for. Once flowers have faded and seeds released, pull up parent plants and place them on the compost heap. Shake the plants over the site before removing to release any stubborn seed.

Oriental poppies hold their large flowers on strong hairy stems. However, they may need the help of a plant support to keep them upright. A poppy flower will last for about 10 days but plants will have a second flush of flowers if they’re cut back. Allow oriental poppies to set seed and the plant will not have enough energy to produce more flowers. Plants should be cut right back to ground level in autumn.

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