Delicate petals with bright colors help poppies catch the eye during their bloom season. Depending on the species and planting schedule, their colorful flowers can bloom from spring through fall in gardens and wild spots across the country.
The types of poppies available for flower gardens vary in color and growing conditions. Most species grown in gardens are native poppies, with poppy diversity richest in the west. As the presentation shows, native species adapt to grasslands, the cold of the Arctic, the heat of the desert Southwest and the shade and moisture of a forest’s edge. Native poppies easily adapt to any back yard garden.
As with other flowers, poppy popularity translated into a variety of other non-native poppies being introduced into gardens. The red or corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas), introduced from Europe, gained popularity as a symbol of war and peace. It now grows wild and in gardens across many areas of North America. The presentation highlights poppy species from additional genera that also find a corner in many gardens.
Giving a Latin name to a group of poppies does little to simplify a poppy presentation. Formally the Eschscholzia genus of poppies tend to all be called California Poppies because they all are native California flowers.
The California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), the California state flower pictured, extends its range across most of North America. They grow in large bunches, often covering a field in a swath of orange during peak blooming season.
The Desert Poppy blooms in the drier areas of Southern California.
While California supports a variety of healthy poppy populations, the northern part of the continent also hosts the wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum). Sometimes they are labeled as Celandine poppies, and their delicate yellow flowers look nice during the spring bloom. Further north the Arctic Poppy (not pictured blooms).
Prickly Poppies (genus Argemone), another wide spread native poppy genera, with over one dozen species. The picture shows a red prickly poppy (Argemone sanguinea), also called a rose prickly poppy, a native of South Texas.
The nickname prickly refers to the plant’s production of small spines to cover its leaves, stems, and fruits. The Desert Poppy (Eschscholzia glyptosperma), another Eschscholzia species ranges across the desert Southwest.
More Types of Poppies
Large red petals associated with Oriental poppies make they a popular growing choice. Turns out that while getting them established in a garden is usually the most difficult growing task. Otherwise, they are hardy perennials that bloom like clockwork in late spring and early summer.
As a Middle-east plant in origin, it’s logical that the plant needs sunny, well-drained soil, and occasional water to thrive. Add support if the plant grows exceedingly tall or the flower heads will droop. Starting from seed means a two year wait for flowers. Those in a hurry can purchase starter plants.
After the growing season ends, trim the dead leaves and flower head if you do not want to naturally reseed, mulch for winter, and the growing cycle should start again in the spring.
Seed packs are commercially available for raising multiple color poppies. Here’s one example of a commercial pink poppy.