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Papaver (pee-OH-nee-uh)

Common Name:  Oriental poppy

Light:  - Full sun to part shade

Soil:  Any average to loamy, well-drained

Moisture:  Average to slightly dry

Blooms:  Early summer

Zones:  2 - 7

Poppy 'Forncett Summer'

Poppy 'Patty's Plum'

Papaver Description and Cultural Information

Papaver orientale, oriental poppy. 2 - 3'. Oriental poppies are the most popular species in this genus, but they are not particularly fond of high temperatures. Instead of going dormant in the winter these plants go dormant in the summer. They have soft, hairy, lobed foliage from which nearly leafless stems arise to hold large, 3 - 4" flowers with black centers. They bloom for about 3 weeks in colors ranging from bright orange to soft pink, crimson, white, or bicolors. 'Brilliant' is a vivid scarlet. 'China Boy' is orange with a white center. 'Garden Glory' is a double flowering, fringed salmon-pink. 'Queen Alexander' is a bright salmon-pink. 'Royal Wedding' is pure white. 'Patty's Plum' is plum purple turning a purplish-brown. 'Fornecett Summer' is an attractive salmon pink with fringed petals.

How to Grow:  Plant poppies at soil level in average to rich, very well-drained soil in full sun. Water them in but then keep soil relatively dry until new growth appears. Overwatering while dormant can cause root rot. Poor and dry soil is always better than heavy, wet soil. They benefit from afternoon shade in warmer areas. Plants go dormant during the hottest part of the summer but will reappear when the temperatures cool back down. This dormant period is the time to divide and move plants, but remember that new plants will appear from root cuttings left behind.

Landscape uses:  Oriental poppies are beautiful early summer bloomers. Combine them with iris, peonies, and early daylilies. Underplant them with creeping plants such as Ajuga or vinca, or overplant them with large summer plants such as baby's breath, Russian sage, Echinacea, daylilies, and lilies, to hide the gap left behind when they go dormant in summer.

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