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Connecticut Garden Journal: Poppies

California poppy_casch52_Flickr.jpg
casch52 (Flickr / Creative Commons)
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California poppy

It's poppy season. Poppies are bright, cheery flowers that grace gardens from spring until fall. While there are some early blooming poppies, such as the red Flanders poppy and the Oriental poppy, it's the seed grown, summer poppies that I love best. These include the California poppies and bread seed poppies.

Seed grown poppies germinate in spring and flower starting in early summer. California poppies, in particular, will set more seed and flower a second and maybe third time during the growing season. While California poppies are known for their golden colored flowers, there are variations that feature white, pink and red flowers. I like the natural crosses that occur in our garden with many color variations.

Speaking of variations, nothing beats the bread seed poppy. While California poppies are low growing with silver foliage, bread seed poppies stand 2- to 3- feet tall with beautiful flower buds, blooms and seed pods. Like California poppies, the plants self sow readily so once you start them, you'll have them poppies forever. We have single and double flowered poppies in colors such as light pink, crimson and lavender. Some look like pom-poms they are so fluffy. The individual flowers don't last long, especially with rainy and windy weather, but the flower buds keep coming for weeks. Plus, once the flowers pass, the seed pods are ornamental too, making get cut flowers. Collect seed of either of these poppies in summer and sow them where you like in spring. Thin seedlings and self sown poppies to 6 inches apart for best flowering and enjoy the flower show.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.