Know Thy Plant: Oriental Poppy ‘Papaver Orientale’

June 3, 2013 Comments Off on Know Thy Plant: Oriental Poppy ‘Papaver Orientale’

Today brings a close to my 3 day ode to poppies…

I have had a dream of  poppies surrounding my  country cottage since viewing Monet’s paintings of the Poppy fields in Giverny. However, when most people think of poppies they think opium, and  they should, as it is still one of the most effective painkillers on the market today! Or they have witnessed the use of it in symbolism as poor Wendy strolled into the poppy field only to enter an eternal sleep just short of the Emerald city.

What most people don’t know, is that all poppies are not created equal. Opium comes from the aptly named Opium Poppy ‘Papaver Somniferum’ (Latin for sleep inducing) and in most cases have questionable legality in the U.S.. Which is why I forgo a lucrative career in drug manufacturing and grow oriental poppies in my own garden instead.

How to Care for Oriental Poppies

  • Grow in Zones 2(3) – 8
  • Prefer well drained loamy soil and full sun.  I would hardly  call my soil loamy or well drained, and they have flourished, but I also don’t live in a particularly wet area either.  The exception being this spring we got a few weeks of rain and I believe this contributed to some of the buds dying.
  • They can tolerate partial shade. In my own garden I have noticed that the plant in partial shade had fewer blooms and less robust foliage.
  • Grow to 2 feet tall and after they bloom the plant will die back and go dormant. I did not know this when I first planted them and was a little bummed that I had killed them, so don’t despair!
  • Bloom May-June
  • Need very little moisture during their dormant period.
  • Difficult to transplant as a result of deep taproot. Your best chance is to transplant when they are small or during a cycle when they require less nutrients. You can also grow them from seed just be sure to research specifics in you area.

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