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How to Grow Oriental Poppy — Papaver

Oriental poppy

Oriental Poppy, Papaver oriental, produces solitary saucer-shaped blooms in summer. The flowering season is short but colorful. Oriental poppy is an upright perennial with divided mid-green leaves.

Oriental poppies are spectacular additions to mixed borders, cottage, and meadow gardens.

Oriental poppy , Papaver orientale
Oriental poppy , Papaver orientale

Get to Know Oriental Poppy–Papaver

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 3-9
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -40°F (-40°C)
  • Height and width: 24 to 36 inches (61-91cM) tall and wide
  • Foliage: Simple and toothed or pinnate leaves are bristly or smooth and gray-green or light to dark green
  • Flowers: Bowl-shaped crepe-papery blooms up to 8 inches across
  • Flower colors: Rich hues of orange, red, pink, and white with black centers
  • Bloom time: Late spring and early summer
  • Uses: Mixed flower borders, cottage garden
  • Garden companions: peonies, bearded iris, baby’s breath, cosmos, sunflowers, African marigolds
  • Common name: Oriental Poppy
  • Botanical name: Papaver orientale
  • Family: Papaveraceae
  • Origin: Europe to East Asia and in Western North America

Where to Plant Oriental Poppy–Papaver

  • Plant oriental poppies in full sun in cool-summer areas and in Zones 2-6; plant in part shade in warm areas in Zones 7-9.
  • Grow oriental poppies in humus-rich, average, well-drained soil.

Oriental Poppy–Papaver Uses and Companions

  • Use oriental poppies in a mixed or herbaceous border.
  • Use oriental poppies in cottage gardens and informal plantings.
  • Good companions for oriental poppies include Achillea, Artemisia, Coreopsis, Euphorbia corollata, Gypsophila paniculata, Iris, Verbena rigida.
Oriental poppy flowers
Oriental poppy flowers

When to Plant Oriental Poppy–Papaver

  • Set oriental poppies into the garden in spring when the danger of frost has passed.

Planting and Spacing Oriental Poppy–Papaver

  • Space oriental poppies 2 to 3 feet apart.

How to Water and Feed Oriental Poppy–Papaver

  • Oriental poppies need moderate water; keep the soil evenly moist. Oriental poppies are somewhat drought tolerant.
  • Fertilize oriental poppies occasionally with an all-purpose fertilizer or work a slow-release fertilizer into the soil in spring.

Oriental Poppy–Papaver Care

  • Mulch around oriental poppies to conserve soil moisture.
  • Remove faded flowers unless you want to harvest seedpods.
  • Keep faded flowers picked to prolong blooms.
  • Oriental poppies lose their foliage in midsummer; the foliage will reappear in autumn. Fill the blank spots in the garden with other annuals until the oriental poppies reappear.
  • Avoid overwatering; roots that are too wet can rot or become diseased.

Oriental Poppy–Papaver Pests and Diseases

  • Powdery mildew, leaf smut, gray mold, root rot and damping off can occur.
Red and white oriental poppy
Red and white oriental poppy

Oriental Poppy–Papaver Propagation

  • Oriental poppy seeds germinate in 14 days at 55°F (13°C).
  • Sow seed in the garden in spring for annuals and biennials.
  • Sow perennials in containers in autumn or spring.
  • Divide perennials in spring or take root cuttings in late autumn or early winter.

Oriental Poppy–Papaver Varieties to Grow

  • Papaver orientale, Oriental poppy: clump-forming perennial, spreading by runners; has erect, white-bristly stems, and mid-green leaves that are lance-shaped and toothed; bears solitary, cup-shaped orange-scarlet flowers 4 to 6 inches across; petals have large bluish black or white basal spots. Cultivars include:
  • ‘Allegro’ has bright orange-scarlet flowers with black basal marks.
  • ‘Beauty of Livermere’ has crimson-scarlet flowers.
  • ‘Black and White’ bears white flowers with crimson-black mark at the base of each petal.
  • ‘Carnival’ has frilled petals, white at the base orange-red above.
  • ‘Helen Elizabeth’ bears salmon-pink flowers.
  • ‘Indian Chief’ has mahogany-red flowers with no spots.
  • ‘Maiden’s Blush’ has ruffled white flowers.
  • ‘May Queen’ had double orange-red flowers with slight quilled petals.
  • ‘Mrs. Perry’ has pale salmon-pink flowers.
  • ‘Perry’s White’ has white flowers with maroon-purple centers.
  • ‘Picotee’ has white flowers with orange-pink margins.
  • ‘Pinnacle’ has bicolored white and scarlet flowers.
  • ‘Prince of Orange’ has orange-scarlet flowers.
  • ‘Princess Victoria Louise’ bears salmon-pink flowers with a black basal blotch on each petal.

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