Oriental Poppy Seeds

Asked July 29, 2020, 1:44 PM EDT


I have an established oriental poppy plant in my garden and I collected the seed pods last week. I would like to plant the seeds. When and how do I plant them? It looks like fall is the best time, but is that right for seeds? Do I think of three seeds as one plant?

Thanks for your help.


Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses

Hi Leigh,

I've tried to find an official U of M document on oriental poppy propagation but am failing. I can tell you what I've done for poppies in my garden though. I don't think what I had was oriental poppies but from what I can see it's all the same, though oriental ones might be a little fussier.

I have had "great luck" not harvesting seeds and letting them self sow wherever they fall. My entire vegetable garden ended up in poppies one year because of wind. It was gorgeous, but probably not what you're looking for.

There are like a zillion poppy seeds in each of the seed heads--what I've done is just sprinkle the seeds in the area I want them to come back up, mix them just barely into the top of the soil and then wait for them to sprout. Eventually, I thin the patch down to a manageable number, getting rid of the weak looking ones and ones that are growing outside the acceptable area.

I believe poppies need the cold season to "cure" properly so they grow, I can't find the term for that. You can either plant in the fall and they'll cure in the ground OR you could store your seeds in a cold place (I kept mine in my charcoal grill one winter, figuring critters wouldn't get in it.) and plant them in the spring. Either should work--maybe do a little experiment to see which works better for you.

The other thing I read that I didn't know and is possibly helpful is that they're going to do better in sunnier spaces. I knew they are sun plants but hadn't thought about it consciously before so it seemed worth mentioning.

Let me know if you have other questions and I can do some additional digging.

Should I sprinkle them around now or wait until later in the summer? If I put the seeds into a pot do you think they would grow there and I could transplant the baby plants by fall?

Again, not super research based but I'd suggest waiting until later in the season to plant them--less chance critters will find and eat the seeds. Which is another good reason to over plant. There's no reason you COULDN'T sprinkle them now though--that's what nature would do!

As far as putting some in a pot and transplanting, why not give it a shot, assuming you have lots of seed. Again, not research based info but a good experiment. They have a tap root, which always makes transplanting tricky though. If I were doing it, I'd skip it and put them direct into the area you think you want them next year. The nice part of poppies is that there will be zillions of seeds again next year so if want them somewhere different, you just have to wait a season!

Hope this helps!