Garden Poppies…advice please?

Suzita asks: Garden Poppies…advice please?
I’ve just moved intot a different house and there is a huge patch of large poppies in the front garden. They have just finished blooming (a brilliant orange colour) They’re taking up quite a large chunk of the small garden.
Any advice about how to look after poppies – is it OK to cut back the stalks that have bloomed? Can I thin them out a bit? Any other thoughts welcome!
I can confirm that the poppies are perennials – Papaver Orientalis!! So, Tashi D, I now have the proper Latin name…

Thank you Rob, for the great pictures and helpful advice.

The answer voted best is:

Answer by Roxy
Have a look at what the BBC’s gardening team say about poppies – it’s very helpful.

What do you think? Answer below!

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  1. Remove by dead-heading the fading flowers.
    In early spring divide the clump to reduce its size and use the separated parts to propagate another clump.

  2. One cannot possibly offer information on the poppies you grow without a Latin name supplied.

  3. Many poppies are annuals, and so need to re-seed in order for you to have another glorious patch of them next year. You can dead-head them, and often they will have further flushes of colour. But, if you’d like some flowers next year, allow some to form their seed heads, and then scatter their seeds where you’d like them to grow. You can scatter them this year, and they’ll germinate at the appropriate point.

    That said, there are also perennial poppies, many of which have been flowering the last few weeks. The most popular one is the oriental poppy – Papaver orentialis. This has large, mid to dark green leaves, often somewhat hairy, and huge flowers that range from white through orange to red., often with a dark central blotch. These can be tidied up, though beware of taking too many leaves off, as this will lessen their chance to build up their strength, ready for strong growth next year. They grow to around 2 feet in height.

    There’s a photo of a plant flowering, with visible leaves, here:

    Another perennial poppy is the Iceland Poppy –

    This tends to be shorter lived. Again dead heading/tidying is fine, and seeds can be stored for sowing at your leisure. Reasonably easy from seed.

    One of my favourite, typically orange, annuals is the Californian poppy – Eschscholzia californica. This has finely cut leaves, dwarfer to around 18”, and seeds very freely. It really benefits from dead heading. to help promote repeat flowering through the summer. In order to get it to reseed, let some flowers go to seed. This can be collected, or allowed to grow themselves – often they’ll germinate in autumn, and this gives earlier flowering plants the following summer time. There’s a photo here:

    So, overall, if it’s annual poppies that you have, tidy if you wish, dead head, but leave some seed heads for next year’s flowers to grow from. If it’s a perennial poppy, it’s OK to deadhead and tidy. They can be divided in spring time.

    Hope this helps. Good luck! Rob

  4. Papaver orientalis will go dormant once it finishes blooming. The leaves will look like they have died. Do not despair. The leaves will come back in the fall. They won’t bloom again, but will be storing energy for bloom next spring. When planting P. orientalis, you will want to plant other perennials with them to cover the bare patches that the dormant poppies will invariably leave.

  5. Careful, while the cultivation of poppies is still
    legal most places, in the U.S. the possession of
    dead stalks, flower heads etc. is not.
    Dispose ot any trimmings promptly.

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