Oriental Poppy Seeds – Germinating and Caring For Oriental Poppies (Papaver Orientale)

Oriental Poppy Seeds Ruffled Patty

Oriental Poppy Ruffled Patty


Producing the best from your Oriental Poppy Seeds

  Poppies are a vibrant part of many gardens, and for some of the most incredible plants of the family, Oriental poppy seeds (Papaver Orientale) can be grown and nurtured at home. Perennials by nature, these specimens are perfect in the herbaceous border and will create a serene and natural show of flowers in the spring for all to enjoy. Meanwhile, with a wide range of flower colors available, gardeners can easily incorporate them into their schemes whatever the color palette.

Germinating and growing oriental poppies (Papaver Orientale) from seed can be more difficult than many other poppies, but with the right conditions and care, healthy vibrant plants can be established. Using seed compost, seeds should be scattered generously on the surface of moist soil and not covered. However, while it is important the seeds remain uncovered by soil, they also need darkness to germinate properly. Using newspaper or pieces of card, cover the pot or seed trays at night until the first green shoots start appearing after approximately 15 to 20 days. The covering can then be removed, and seeds grown on with care to ensure that compost is kept moist and air circulation high to prevent damping off. When plants are large enough to transplant, care should be taken not to disturb the roots as this is a particularly high cause of die-off in young Oriental poppies. They should be situated in an herbaceous border which has nutrient rich, well drained soil, and is in full sun to ensure that young plants can grow up as quickly as possible.

Oriental Poppies Nana Allegro

Oriental Poppies 'Nana Allegro'

Providing the right initial conditions are correct, Oriental poppies will quickly begin to thrive and put on spectacular shows in the spring. Unlike many herbaceous plants which should be cut down as they fade in the fall, the best time to remove foliage and flower stalks is shortly after flowering, when poppies will begin to brown and die. With root propagation also a viable way of producing new plants, letting seed pods ripen is not necessary, and so all trace of plants should be removed back to soil level. Gardeners will very quickly find that individual Oriental poppy specimens soon start putting out new fresh leaves again, which though staying relatively small, will often remain through the winter months until the spring warmth encourages vibrant growth.

Like many herbaceous plants, the best time to divide, split, and take root cuttings from Oriental poppies is in the fall after they have flowered for the year and become almost entirely dormant. For large specimens which have been left to mature fully, simply digging up the plant will be sufficient to find rooted tubers which can be easily separated. For plants where only one root ball has developed, fleshy roots can be cut into segments of between one and two inches. Lay these just under the surface of potting compost placed into a pot, and maintain the moisture. While disturbance must be kept to a minimum, most plants will start to develop roots after only a couple of weeks, with the appearance of green shoots signaling that the propagation has been successful.

Papaver Oriental Prince of Orange

Oriental Poppies 'Prince of Orange'

Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale) are beautiful plants that many crave to have in their garden. A border simply full of different shades of specimens provides a breathtaking and stunning sight. And with Oriental poppy seeds offering a wide variety of species to grow, gardeners can ensure that their borders are bursting with vibrancy.

So, now that you understand how easy it is to grow and care for Oriental poppy seeds, let me show you all the wonderful colors and varieties available for purchase from this merchant One Stop Poppy Shoppe.

  1. Hannah Nam
    05/25/2011 at 00:57

    I recently purchased some oriental poppy seeds from your wonderful website and can’t wait to get them in the ground! I live in zone 9b of Southern California and thought I’d ask you when you think it the best time to start them indoors. Our summers are hot and dry, and those conditions can persist into mid-October. Would winter sowing be the best option?

    Thank you for your time!


  2. 05/25/2011 at 13:42

    Hi Hannah, yes, poppy seeds need coolish weather for germination and all poppies dislike heat, so plant them after your October heat.

  3. Carol Amaru
    06/27/2011 at 18:51

    Have enjoyed the beautiful red poppies found in daughter-in-law’s new flower bed. They have finished blooming and I need to know whether to cut down and if so how far. Do they bloom again next spring? Can the pod be used to collect seeds? I don’t know the species but they are a bright crimson red on tall stalk. (3′ or higher)

    Thank you.

  4. 07/12/2011 at 08:13

    Hi Carol, If you intend to save seed, just cut the foliage back to the ground. I do not know if your poppies are an annual or perennial variety, but non the less the scrappy foliage must be removed.If your plants are perennial they will resume growth in the Fall for next years blooming. If they are annuals you can allow the pods to dry on the plant and then save and plant the seed in late Fall.

  5. Cindy
    04/20/2012 at 20:40

    I have gigatmums & hen&chics drama queen red shirley also have paperboy

  6. Carol S
    06/05/2012 at 10:38

    I want to buy some oriental poppy seeds, but when is the best time to start them. I’m thinking it would have to be indoors and it would be nice to have some good sized plants to get established outside before winter in Pennsylvania. I read the information on the website about covering at night, etc. but not sure how long before they will be able to put outside. Thanks, Carol s

  7. Jo
    06/11/2012 at 21:44

    What about trying to ripen the pods on perennial Oriental poppies? Leave the pods on until brown and ripe, or remove them and keep in a dry place to ripen?

  8. Thomas
    06/12/2012 at 14:30

    I’ve recently purchased several varieties of papaver from you. With the orientale, your blog says that they need darkness to germinate, but the packet says they need light. What?

    That matter being settled, we moved into our house last winter and there is an existing
    orientale which is currently in bloom. Is now a good time to sow orientale, or wait till fall?
    And when for paeoniflorum? and nudicaule Kelmscott Giant?

    Thank you.


  9. Jenny Wilson
    06/19/2012 at 11:06

    HI, I live in zone 6B, when is the best time to plant poppie seeds? Can they be scattered or do I need to make a good lower bed. I see them along roadsides etc, that the road department plants, do they do something special. Also is morning sun afternoon shade ok? Thank you

  10. 09/13/2012 at 13:43

    I am attempting to grow some oriental poppies for my wedding in mid may of 2013, when would you suggest i plant the seeds so they will flower in time for the wedding? thanks!

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