Poppy (Annual) Growing Guide

Papaver rhoeas (field poppy), Papaver somniferum (breadseed or opium poppy)

Poppy (Annual)

Crop Rotation Group



Fertile, well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Most annual poppies germinate in late winter and early spring, and easily survive spring freezes.


None generally required when poppies are grown in fertile beds.


Single Plants: 5" (15cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 5" (15cm) with 5" (15cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Annual poppies are grown from seed sown where you want them to grow. Transplanting is very difficult, if not impossible. Sow seeds anytime from autumn to early spring by scattering them on the soil surfaceatop the soil. By mid-spring, the lacy, blue-green seedlings are easy to distinguish from weeds. In hospitable sites, annual poppies will reseed themselves year after year.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


California poppies prefer warmer soil, and can be planted later than other annual poppies. They also bloom for a longer period of time, sometimes all summer. Breadseed poppies often naturalize in vegetable gardens, and they love the protected space provided by winter tunnels. Their early summer blooms are honeybee favorites. Corn poppies are excellent additions to meadow gardens.


Harvest breadseed poppies as soon as the pods turn from green to tan. Keep them upright, then empty the pods into a broad container and let the seeds dry at room temperature for several days. You can replant the seeds, or use them in cooking. The dry pods make nice additions to dried flower arrangements.


Corn poppies and breadseed poppies promptly die after producing a seed crop in summer. Spindly, slow-growing plants indicate low soil fertility.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Poppy (Annual)