How to Plant a Poppy Container Garden

Learn how to plant a container garden for various types of poppies with this step-by-step gardening guide.
Poppies in Red Basket

Poppies in Red Basket

poppies in red planter on bench

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

The crinkled silky petals of poppies appear in a wonderful array of colors that attract bees and butterflies, and birds enjoy eating the seeds. Plan to sow the seeds in early spring for summer flowering or in early summer for fall flowering or for flowering the next spring. We've used seeds of the Iceland poppy variety. This project takes 12 weeks to complete.

Materials Needed:

  • container (e.g., flowering pot or recycled juice container)
  • unfertilized soil
  • poppy seeds
  • watering can

1. Add Soil

Fill up a prepared container with unfertilized soil. Poppies grow best in poor, lightly moistened soil. Make a shallow trench around the container using your finger.

How to Prepare Soil For Planting Poppies

How to Prepare Soil For Planting Poppies

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2. Choose Your Seeds

There are more than 120 species in the poppy family. Some of the best for containers include Ladybug, California and Iceland poppies.

3. Sow the Seeds

Sprinkle the seeds into the trench and cover with a very little soil. Position the container in a sunny spot and keep the soil slightly moist until the shoots appear.

Sprinkle Poppy Seeds in Trench

Sprinkle Poppy Seeds in Trench

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

4. Choose a Sunny Spot

Grow poppies in a place that gets full sun. Use poor, lightly moistened soil. Seeds will germinate in 2 to 4 weeks and flowers will open from 12 weeks onward.

5. Thin the Seedlings

Once the seedlings appear, thin them to 4 inches (10 cm) apart. Overcrowded plants will become spindly without room to branch out.

Thin Poppy Seedlings to Avoid Overcrowding

Thin Poppy Seedlings to Avoid Overcrowding

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

6. Water the Poppies

Water a little only when the soil looks dry. Poppies like almost drought conditions, so if it has rained in the week, then they likely do not need water.

Watering Poppies

Watering Poppies

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

7. Remove Dead Flowers

Lengthen the flowering period. Remove the dead flowers by breaking the stalks a little way below them. This is called deadheading and encourages the plant to produce new flowers rather than spend its energy on producing seeds.

Encourage New Blooms

Encourage New Blooms

Photo by: DK - Ready Set Grow! © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Ready Set Grow! , 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Encourage reseeding for the next year. Leave some spent flowers at the end of the flowering period to form seedpods, letting the leaves die back.

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