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Poppies in Oklahoma

November 13, 2010

Seeing the winter sowing thread reminded me that I still have poppy seeds that I impulsively bought last year.

I have never grown them or tried winter sowing anything.

When do you think is the best time to plant in the ground not in a container? January?

I have attached the old thread about poppies but couldnt find any date. It goes off topic a little. Gorgeous pictures!

Any help will be greatly appreciated

Here is a link that might be useful: Poppy Discussion

Comments (15)

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    I planted my poppies, which grow mostly in the pastures outside my 'real' garden area, by scattering seed on the ground in either January or Febuary of 1999. They have reseeded for me ever since, and have come up in places 100 or 200 yards away from where they started. Most of my poppies are the red corn poppies/Flanders poppies. Every now and then some white or pink poppies pop up but they don't reseed vigorously like the red ones do.

    Poppies need light to germinate. The old traditional way to plant them in our climate is to scatter the seeds on the snow. The moisture from the snow and the exposure to sunlight help them germinate. However, I live in a part of Oklahoma where snow is relatively rare (except for last year) so I just scatter the seeds in Jan. or Feb. and mist them lightly with water from the hose, using a nozzle that allows a light mist. You can't water too hard or the seeds wash away.

    I don't "have to" scatter any seed since mine reseed, but sometimes I scatter some anyway, especially if I want to add a new color.

    Since the poppy seeds are so teeny-tiny, I mix mine with sand as a spreader.

    I've linked a photo of the purple poppy variety, Lauren's Grape, that I'm planning to add to the poppy areas in 2011. They're such a gorgeous color.

    If you have well-drained soil, you probably could plant them now, but I have dense red clay so I wait until mid-winter to lessen the chance of seeds rotting in/on cold wet soil.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of

  • mulberryknob

    I planted my first poppies in the mid 1980s and they have been wandering around the garden ever since. This year I already have several plants that germinated about a month or six weeks ago when it started raining after the drought. I will move some of them because they are in the veggie area that DH will be tilling when it gets cold enough for the earthworms to move below tilling depth. Poppies do not like being transplanted because they have tap roots but it can be done if they are kept watered well following the move. I usually do it in very early spring, mulching the plants to protect the roots from late frosts.

  • soonergrandmom

    I guess they don't like my place, because I have never had one poppy from several packages I have scattered. Maybe I need to do it when its raining so they stay put.

  • susanlynne48

    Carol, don't say that! Jinx, jinx, jinx! I just bought Poppy seed this year, Lauren's Grape and a Red one that I intend to scatter Dec./Jan. as Dawn says.

    Dawn, did you get your Lauren's Grape from Select Seed when they were on sale recently? That's when I got mine. My neighbor across the street has poppies and I guess that once you plant them, AND they come up - oh, please, oh, please - you're likely to have them forever.

    Good luck to all of us who are doing this for the first time.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7


    I got my seed from Select Seed last year, then misplaced the seed and didn't find them until after planting time had passed.

    Over the years, our poppies have rambled and roamed and come up here one year, and over there the next. Some years they reseed better than other years, but we always have some. Like Dorothy, I transplant then when they're tiny. I haven't seen any emerging here yet, but we have hollyhocks and malva sylvestris up everywhere. All the winter weeds including dandelions started popping up out of the ground after the brief cool spell/heavy rains we had here in early September, so we have dandelions in bloom right now, but no sign yet of poppies.

    The single corn and Flanders poppies reseed best at our house, but the double/ruffled poppies, sometimes referred to as carnation-type poppies, reseeded for a couple of years in good soil. California poppies never reseed too much for me, but they reseed a little here and there most years.


  • greenacreslady

    I love poppies and have never tried to grow them, but would love to try. This last summer I didn't have any luck sowing zinnia seeds, and I thought it might be because there is a layer of pine bark mulch in the flowerbeds. I finally gave up and planted bedding plants after two attempts. If I try poppies and just scatter the seed on top of the mulch and let it work its way down, is there a chance? Or should I just pull the mulch back in sections and leave it bare until they germinate?


  • mulberryknob

    Suzie, I would pull back the mulch and scatter the seed over the bare dirt. Don't cover them. As Dawn said, they need light to germinate.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7


    It is a funny thing with poppy seeds. Without light, they won't germinate and we all know that rain, for example, can carry the seeds down into the soil where they remain dormant for many years. That's sort of how the poppies became famous in France during World War I.

    As the soldiers dug trenches during WWI, poppies germinated and grew in the disturbed soil. The poppy seeds had been dormant in the soil a long time because many locals said poppies hadn't grown in those fields in many years, yet after the soil was disturbed, they sprouted. When rows and rows of graves were dug in wartime cemetaries, once again the poppies sprouted, grew and bloomed, leading a soldier to write the famous poem about the Flanders poppy. I always think of that poem when I see red poppies.

    If you grow poppies in an area and every year you seem to have fewer and fewer reseeding, all you have to do is rototill or spade up the soil and the following year you'll have tons of poppies from the seeds you gave exposure to sunlight.


  • soonergrandmom

    So-o-o, if I dig a fox-hole in my flower bed, I may see poppies from all those seed? LOL

  • Lisa_H OK

    I winter sow my poppies first. I would definitely recommend January. The year I did them in January, I had a great crop. The big problem is FINDING seeds then! You will be way ahead of the game already having them!

    I love poppies, but they don't necessarily reseed for me. Occasionally the Shirley poppies will.


  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7


    You might! Your get so much moisture there, though, (well, most years, if not in 2010) that your seeds might not survive as long as they do in drier areas. There is an area of our property that sits between our house and the spring-fed swamp about 150' northwest of the house and in that area the clay holds so much moisture that poppies don't reseed there and the ones I raise each year from seed don't come back the next year.

    Last December when Elvis came in and reworked our gravel driveway after 50+" of rain had eroded it, he disturbed enough soil alongside the driveway that this past spring we had poppies and bluebonnets popping up in several places where I hadn't seen them the last couple of years. It made me wish we'd had him bulldoze the entire front pasture and bar ditch while he was here because I bet it really would have revitalized the poppy population there.


    I always get my poppy seeds from Wildseed Farm. This year, I am going to scatter their Texas/Oklahoma wildflower seed mix and their poppy mix in several different places. Our wildflowers haven't been all that great the last 2 years, so I think I need to "overseed" the pastures. I also have a separate packet of their poppy seed to scatter in the flower border around the veggie garden. Nothing makes me happier than working in the veggie garden in April, May and June surrounded by the red, white and blue combination of corn poppies, white sweet alyssum and yarrow, and blue larkspur.


  • greenacreslady

    Thank you all for the helpful info on poppies. Now I'm adding them to the list of new things to try. Several years ago we went to Banff National Park, and I'll never forget the sight of the beautiful poppies at Lake Louise, including some gigantic red ones. I'd never seen anything like them.


    PS ... is anyone else having trouble with strange pop-ups appearing when you try to type in the message box?

  • soonergrandmom

    There were some crazy things happening earlier, but I think it has been fixed now.

  • zqueen

    Hi to all! It’s late April and I’m in California visiting. I bought some California poppy seeds. I will be back in Tulsa on April 25. I’d like to put some seeds down now in a couple of different places. Is this an exercise in futility, or should I go forward, sow seeds on bare soil, replace mulch loosely, and see what happens? Thanks to anyone who can help!

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    California poppies need to be sown early in the cool season. It might be getting too late here. You always can save the seeds and sow them next year.

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