How to grow poppies in Perth

Growing poppies in Perth

A poppy is a flower in the subfamily Papaveroideae of the family Papaveraceae. Poppies are herbaceous plants, often grown for their colourful flowers. Available in a mix of colours and single and double flowers, they are great for mass plantings or in cottage-like gardens.

Poppies are best know in Australia for their association with Remembrance day. This is because they were heavily present on Belgian and French battlegrounds, the red corn poppy, Papaver rhoeas, became forever associated with the First World War as a result.

If you have ever wondered how to grow poppies in Perth then look no further. Poppies are a simple flower to grow, but there are still a few tricks to successfully growing poppies in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant poppy seeds in Perth:

The best time to plant the poppy seeds in Perth is during early autumn or during the start of of March. If you plant the seeds in autumn, you can expect the blooms in the following spring season. You can also plant in spring and these poppies will bloom in summer.

Where do poppies grow best?

Poppy plants need reasonable well-drained soil. If you have clay soil, add compost by digging down the top 5cm of the soil. Poppies best grow in soil with neutral pH. You need to select a place with full sun that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to plant your seeds. Blooming is profuse when the growing conditions are cooler. When the temperature increases the blooms can become more sporadic.

How much water do poppies need?

Poppy flowers need limited watering once they have established. You want to keep the soil from drying out, however too much water can result in tall, leggy, unattractive poppies.

How long do poppies take to grow from seed?

Depending on the variety of poppy seed you are planting, seeds will sprout in 20-30 days from the date they are sown.

Types of poppies in Australia:

There are a number of poppy varieties readily available in WA. Below is a list of poppy varieties which are more common;

  • Oriental poppy – Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) feature finely cut feathery foliage explodes in spring with immense, vibrantly coloured flowers boasting bold black centres, black blotches and a prominent crown of stigma and anthers in the centre.
  • Californian poppy – Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica), this cheery wildflower has finely divided foliage, pointed buds and simple orange flowers in early spring. Also available in red and yellow.
  • Flanders poppy – Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas) A beautiful rich, red flower with dark blotches, often recognised as the emblem of ANZAC and Remembrance Day. blood red flowers with a black blotch on each petal.
  • Shirley poppy – Shirley poppy (Papaver rhoeas) variations of the Flanders poppy are simple cups of lilac or pink.
  • Blue poppy – Blue poppy (Mecanopsis betonicifolia)this rare blue poppy is the blue of a cloudless sky.
  • Iceland Poppy Artist’s Glory – Glorious late winter/early spring blooms of crinkled silk in shades of gold, lemon, apricot and salmon.

How to grow poppies at home:

The important thing to remember with poppies is they are sown and not planted. This means that you really don’t want to overly bury the seeds.

  1. Poppies are best to sown straight into the garden as they don’t transplant well.
  2. Before you start, dig over the planting areas breaking the soil down into fine particles. Mix in some soil improver and fertiliser, and rake to level the surface.
  3. Spread a thin layer of a seed raising mix and scatter the seeds on top.
  4. Water carefully, and then sprinkle the tiny amount of seed raising mix over the seeds.
  5. Water the area gently with a spray bottle or similar.
  6. Poppy seedlings usually emerge within a couple of weeks. Keep the soil from drying out during this period.

Growing poppies in pots:

Growing poppies in pots is easy, fun and rewarding! In general growing poppies in pots is a great idea. Below are the steps on how to how to grow poppies in a pot;

  1. Choose a pot at least 20cm wide and deep.
  2. Position your pot in full sun and is sheltered from wind.
  3. Fill the chosen pots with quality potting mix.
  4. Plant directly into the pot by scattering the seeds thinly on top of the soil, then barely cover with a seed raising mix.
  5. Firm down lightly and water with a fine mist spray.
  6. Water gently and keep moist through germination period.
  7. Feed every 1 to 2 weeks with a Liquid Plant Food for flowers.

When to poppies bloom in WA:

Typically poppies will bloom between August and October in Western Australia.

Companion plants for poppies:

Easy-to-grow annual companion plants for poppies include petunias, salvia ‘Victoria’, flowering tobacco, gomphrena, and celosia.

The best perennial companions for the Oriental poppy include dahlias, Russian sage, daylily, goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, hibiscus, catmint, and agastache.

Caring for poppies:

Why hasn’t my poppy seed germinated? The most common mistake is that people bury the seed rather than sow it.

Poppies are pretty tough they are susceptible to a range of rots and mildews. This can mostly be avoided by always planting in free draining soil and having good air circulation around the plants.

Protect seedlings from snails and slugs by picking off by hand and if aphids or mites appear then a spray with an eco friendly spray.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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