Oriental Poppies from seed

taxonomist(7b VA)September 22, 2009

I cannot seem to germinate fresh oriental poppy seeds. If anyone can offer advice in solving the problem, I should be forever grateful.

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storing seed at 40F for 4 weeks will improve germination.
lightly cover seed soil temp 65-70F taking 10-14 days to germinate.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 9:27AM
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treelover(z8b SoCtrlTX)

I have no idea if this is beneficial, but I always store my poppy seeds (and larkspur) in the freezer. I seem to remember reading that they need some cold before germinating. It's possible that the process isn't quite that simple, though. One fall I was getting rid of a bag of poppy seed that I'd kept in the freezer for years (for cooking) and just tossed it all out into the garden. The next spring I had thousands of seedlings come up, so IÂm pretty sure it doesnÂt hurt to freeze them.

I always direct sow my poppy seeds then move the seedlings around before they get too big, if they're not in a good location.

After having some years with good germination results & some with bad, I've recently started trying to time it so it rains within a day or so after sowing the seed. Again, this may not make any difference.

I'll be interested to see what others have to say.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 9:45AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Here in zone 7a in NC, we direct sow the seeds in late October/early November and the seedlings come up on their own where they were sowed. A real no brainer for me! :)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 5:45AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

The poppy seeds used in cooking are seeds for annual plants, not perennial poppies :)

Papaver oriental - I surface sow them, no cover, germination will take place in about 2 weeks. 65-70F as above, much cooler or much warmer may delay germination.

I do direct sow the annual types but not the orientals. Seeds from the named varieties don't come true if you didn't know that...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 10:43AM
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treelover(z8b SoCtrlTX)

morz8: Now that you've pointed it out ... not one of those poppies from the cooking seeds came back the next year, not even from reseeding. I never gave it a thought. Just as well, as they weren't anything special.

Are the kind called orientals always perennial? How do you tell them apart from the annual types?

I had some poppy seeds given to me without any ID. They're tall, some are doubles, some singles, reds, pinks and peach colored. I've always ripped them out thinking they're annuals, since they get so ugly after blooming.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 1:59PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Treelover, I've sown the seeds from the spice aisle jars and I wasn't impressed with the flowers either - they were a mix of uninspiring pastels, lots of singles, many white. There are many deeper colors, doubles, available in the seed catalogs if you are going to grow annual poppies.

Oriental poppies (papaver oriental) are perennials, their foliage is darker green, divided, hairy, almost scritchy/uncomfortable to your hands and arms when weeding around them.

The breadseed poppies, papaver somniferum, have more of a blue-green foliage for the most part, grow quickly, bloom and set seed within a few weeks of germinating. Are you letting the seed pods ripen before taking out the plants - pods will begin to turn more tan than green, look a little dry and if you give them a shake you can hear the seeds rattle inside. It can take some patience because the whole plant is looking a little ratty by the time the seeds have matured, can be hard to leave it in the garden.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 1:37AM
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treelover(z8b SoCtrlTX)

From your photo, I'd have to say that mine have all been annuals. I do wait till the pods ripen before collecting seed--tearing off any brown, dried up leaves in the meantime. By the time I remove the plants, they're just pods on a stick, which look interesting in their own way.

Thanks for the explanation, morz. I've been wondering about this since I was given the seeds. I think I'd like some of the perennial type, too. Another item for my wish list...

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 10:56AM
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