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How to Grow California Poppies


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California poppies are perennial plants that grow to between 12 and 18 inches in height and produce colorful flowers. The flowers can be a myriad of colors, including yellow, orange, white, pink and red. They are highly drought tolerant and only require minimum care and maintenance to survive. California poppies are the state flower of California, and bloom between April and August.

Difficulty:
Easy

Instructions

things you’ll need:
  • Coarse sand (optional)
  • Rake
  • Poppy seeds
  • Fertilizer
    1. Choose a location to grow the poppies that receives six to eight hours of full sunlight. Ensure the soil has good drainage and does not accumulate any standing water. Mix clean coarse sand with the soil to increase drainage if necessary.
    2. Use a rake to prepare the soil. Plant each seed in a small hole about ¼ inch deep. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy, for one to three weeks or until the plants emerge.
    3. Reduce the amount of water applied after the poppies begin to flower. Water the poppy plants two to three times a week, or anytime the soil becomes completely dry.
    4. Remove any spent flowers as soon as possible, by pinching them off at the point the flower meets the stem. Dead flowers will draw nutrients from other parts of the plant and will reduce the number of blossoms produced.
    5. Feed California poppies only when they are in poor health. Fertilizing healthy poppies causes them to focus on growing foliage as opposed to flowers. Use a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer following the manufacturer’s directions.

Tips & Warnings

  • California poppies grow a deep taproot, and are not suited well to growth in pots or containers. Poppies are best planted in early spring, around late March or early April.

  • Never fertilize California poppies in winter. This is their dormant time, and they will not use most of the nutrients released. Always water before and after feeding and never allow fertilizer to touch the foliage or stem of the poppies.

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