Winter sowing poppies

aprilfool(7)June 29, 2007

Would it be better to winter sow poppies directly in the bed outside since they don't seem to like transplanting?

I have never had any luck with spring sowing poppies.

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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

When I was first introduced to poppies, I was told to sprinkle the seed on the ground in the Fall, because it seems they need the cold period for germination. That's probably why spring sowing does not work. This winter I WSd poppies and planted them out, but it took them a bit longer than other plants to 'take off'. I've seen others advise to go the hunk o' seedlings route to ensure getting survival of planted out seedlings. This winter, I plan to direct sow and protect from the birds and elements with 2-litre pop bottles, then thin in the Spring if necessary. It should work. But I will also WS some in the pop bottles just to make sure.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 4:57AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

My direct sown poppies do the best. They bloom much earlier than those sown in containers. I sowed them in Feb on freshly raked soil. I'll do that again next winter. I am saving some top soil just for that purpose. I covered the sown area with a hole -y plastic sheet - the Winter Sowing style:

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 7:37AM
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lynnem(5 Ohio)

Pit, can you explain your method a bit more? Do you just take a sheet of plastic put holes in it, and lay it on top of the ground, or is it elevated over the soil? Clear plastic?

You poppies are just great, and I can't tell you how many times I've tried them. My WS one that is left is still as small as it was in the pot, no growth at all.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 7:42AM
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Thanks for all replys. Pit your poppies are so pretty and whole garden! I hope I can grow some that looks as good.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 8:24AM
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One of our Winter Sowers made a photo essay called "Life of a Poppy Bed". She shared it with WinterSown because it so well shows the hunk-o-seedlings method for beds and it certainly is a great example. The photos in the link are thumbnails, you can click on them and they'll blow up into larger views.

Here is a link that might be useful: WildGarden's

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 8:44AM
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When I recieved my seeds from poppy_power she advised me to direct sow them around Thanksgiving. I did and then come early spring I didn't see anything and so impatient as I am I direct sowed again in April. So now I can't tell ya if these gorgeous poppies are from the Nov. or Apr. sowing LOL!
All I did was sprinkle and walk away....the rain and snow would take care of the rest. I had mass thinning to do though, but that's ok. Also tried moving some tiny babies but they just killed off.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 10:46AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

Thanks, April & Lynn.
I had to wait until Feb or early March, becuase I could not get a hold of any unfrozen top soil. I also was too busy sowing in Feb to pay attention to the outdoors.

I raked soil over an existing perennial bed, sowed my seeds. I placed some tomato cages sideway on the sown area. Poked holes in a sheet of clear plastic. Covered the tomato cages with the plastic. I used some bricks to hold down the edge of the plastic. This served two purposes: to keep squirrels out and keep the rain from washing away the seeds.

This method has worked best for me with poppies and some other annuals. The main reason is that my garden is already stuffed with perennials and bulbs. I cannot dig anywhere without cutting into any plant or bulb. I also am very busy in spring planting out a lot of my winter sown seedlings. Direct sowing helped lighten the load. It is also very easy. lol.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:32PM
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Here's the method that Pitimpinai is talking about...

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato Cage Germination Tunnel

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 1:44PM
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poppy_power(Z5 OH)

Beautiful!poppies.I like the bachelor buttons with the poppies.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 2:59PM
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lynnem(5 Ohio)

Pit and Judy,

Thanks for the explanations. I will try it next winter. I WILL HAVE POPPY SUCCESS, sometime in my lifetime.

I used tomato cases turned on their sides for my peas to climb on. By the time the peas were done, I took away the cage, and put it on one of the tomatoes. Worked great. Such versatile objects, those tomato cages!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 7:28AM
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dawiff(z7 WA)

Trudi, Thanks for the link to the tomato cage pictorial. That was very helpful. I have some really long Sterilite containers that I want to use this winter for sowing, but they don't have clear lids, and even with lids, not a lot of head room. The tomato cages and clear vinyl should work out really well. Now if I can just find some big pieces of clear vinyl.....


    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 11:06AM
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Alison, I got my vinyl over at WallyWorld in their fabric department, it costs less than two bucks a linear yard, some are cheaper and some more expensive.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 1:44PM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

I got my clear plastic sheets from the alley behind my neighbor's house. He was rehabbing the upstairs and had a several of new washer/dryers and whatnots put in. There was a lot of discarded sheets of plastic.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 2:37PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I WS my poppies, just because I need added control to protect them from animals and birds. I haven't had a problem with transplanting them yet, although I put them out while they are really small. Same with Lupine. They say it's difficult to transplant because of the taproot, but I've never had a problem with transplanting those either.

It's a matter really of what is going to fit your needs.
Like Sweet Peas...I could WS them (and have in the past, with success) but I direct sow them because I can get a better idea of the mass effect that way. Like Pit is doing with her poppies, I usually am planting Sweet Peas in places where there isn't room to really dig, so I prefer direct sowing them.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 4:03PM
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Wow- I had total failure with sweet peas and poppies this year. I was just gonna chock it up to the fact that I may be too hot here for them? None of my oriental poppies have ever taken offand I direct sowed a TON of seeds for annual poppies. Got one or two sad little flowers. As for the sweet peas, I wsed and direct sowed, and they all came up, but no blooms. I love them both so much- so sad for me. maybe I'll try direct sowing the poppies again. We had a wierd spring this past year, so maybe it was the reason?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 10:04AM
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I had great luck this year doing both DS and WS. Last year I failed miserably. My own personal tactic & observations: New bed: No 'preparation' at all, simply tossed down a load of compost onto the lawn. Can't prep, anyway, since it's over the leach field. No digging allowed ;)
DS most in early March.
Hosed the bed down a couple times, otherwise, Ma Nature watered for me.
WS a couple of containers sometime in Winter for comparison.
When it looked like nothing was happening in the DS bed, I planted out the couple of containers of WS ones that I did. The trick with Poppies seems to be to get them in the ground as soon as possible, and I planted mine out when they were no more than 1" tall. Last year I waited until I thought they were 'big enough,' and that was too late.
The DS ones finally showed up in May amongst a bed of weeds. Had to look close- almost gave up on them!
Kept bed weeded.
Eventually, they all showed up, and are doing fabulously. The WS ones are still out-performing the rest, but because the bed is so large, I'll likely just let them reseed this year, and not WS. Have lots of other spaces that I need to tend to; one less thing to think about.

Picture can be found over on the "Latest Poppies" thread, and my source of oodles of varieties of seed was eBay (seller name: OneStopPoppyShop).

Have fun- it's well worth the effort!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2007 at 10:19AM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

April, I now have the results from my WS Poppy trial. I had my first bloom today only, July 3 which is quite late. The plants are about half the size they should be and still a bit floppy and the flower, though pretty, is only about 1 inch in diameter!! So from all the posts and my trial, I will direct seed in future, or if I WS, get the plants in very early as the last post said. I waited until my plants were a bit bigger and planted them out on May 28. Here's a pic of my first bloom. It's so floppy it needed to be staked so I could get the pic.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 4:13PM
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That's a California Poppy, it's not a Papaver sp., but will also benefit from transplant while less than an inch.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 4:19PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Thanks for the info. Trudi. I'm new to poppies and after your comment, I've done some research and discovered the wonderful world (so large) of poppies. I'm so fortunate to be still learning. I've discovered that the lovely blooms I have in my garden are Oriental poppies. I WS'd some seeds this year as a gift to a newly married couple who admired them in my garden. I will definitely try some of the Papaver sp. next winter. They make a beautiful annual splash.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 3:26AM
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