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.

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

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Ready Set Grow!

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 the Ladybug Poppy (seen here), California Poppy and Iceland Poppy.

Lady Bug Poppy

Lady Bug Poppy

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Ready Set Grow!

DK - Ready Set Grow!, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Ready Set Grow!

DK - Ready Set Grow!, © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

4. Thin the Seedlings

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

Thin Poppy Seedlings to Avoid Overcrowding

Thin Poppy Seedlings to Avoid Overcrowding

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Ready Set Grow!

DK - Ready Set Grow!, © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

5. 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 are likely not to need water.

Watering Poppies

Watering Poppies

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Ready Set Grow!

DK - Ready Set Grow!, © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

6. 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.

California Poppy Good Variety for Containers

California Poppy Good Variety for Containers

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - Ready Set Grow!

DK - Ready Set Grow!, © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

7. Remove the 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.

8. Encourage Reseeding

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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