Now is the time to plant your poppies. We have started them in 4packs at the nursery and it’s best to get them planted out before they become root-bound. We have some wonderful varieties to choose from but the trick is to plant now.
The most notorious member of the Poppy tribe is Papaver somniferum, the Opium Poppy. This plant has a cultural history going back millennia. Since earliest times its narcotic virtues have been known and used in medicines to cure pain and induce sleep. It was not until the 19th Century that doctors became fully aware that it was addictive. Aside from its narcotic attributes it is a particularly beautiful plant. Its baroque architecture and richly saturated colors have inspired craftsmen and artists to interpret its form into decorative schemes in everything from furniture, fabrics, china, jewelry to painting and book illustration.
The decorative Opium Poppy is a cottage garden favorite. Why it is not seen more often in flower gardens must have something to do with a question of timing. It is properly an annual plant, meaning that it’s seed germinates, grows, flowers and develops mature seeds in one season. It is however originally from a more temperate zone than our harsh New England climate. In order for the plant to fully develop it needs to set a deep root system. So in a way it behaves more like a biennial, germinating just after the Winter Solstice and setting a whorl of basil foliage to feed root development through the chill, winter months. Then, with the Spring Equinox, it begins to expand its lush, curled and fringed, pale gray- green foliage. It’s flowers finally begin to open in the warmth of late June into July. The flowers only last a day but are produced continuously. Once it has flowered it’s petals drop revealing the characteristic seed pod which it holds until it dries later in the summer.
The solution to this problem is to start the seeds early indoors, but caution must be exercised. The common caveat with poppies is that they resent root disturbance. And further, if left too long in the container they will quickly become root bound, from which they will not recover. This is where timing becomes critical. So to have beautiful flowers like these we must plant our poppies now so they can develop their root systems in the cool ground.
If you want more poppy information click here for an informative and interesting article.