How to Plant Red Poppy Seeds


If you want to brighten your garden with a blast of color, consider growing red poppies. They can be planted in wildflower, mixed gardens and in borders. Red poppy varieties include annuals and perennials. Papaver rhoeas or corn poppy is an annual that grows up to 3 feet tall. Red flowers bloom from late spring throughout summer. Papaver nudaucaule or Iceland poppy is a perennial and has red blooms and grows almost everywhere in the United States.

Difficulty: Moderately Easy


Things You’ll Need:

  • Rake
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Shovel
  • Sand
  1. Plant red poppy seeds in the garden at the appropriate time of year considering your region, as seeds germinate best in cool temperatures. Gardeners living in USDA hardiness zones 6 and lower should sow seeds in early spring. Those living in USDA hardiness zones 7 and higher should sow seeds in fall for spring germination.

  2. Clear a planting site of weeds and grasses. Select a planting site situated in full sun.

  3. Amend the soil with compost or manure to increase drainage and soil organics. Spread a 3-inch layer of organic material over the planting site and work it into the soil 3 to 4 inches using a shovel.

  4. Add sand to the poppy seeds, ending with a 50 percent ratio of both to make sowing easier and more even. Sprinkle the poppy seeds over the planting site’s soil and sprinkle a light covering of soil over them. Do not cover the seeds with a heavy layer of soil, as they need light for proper germination.

  5. Thin poppy seedlings once they germinate in approximately two weeks, to one plant every 10 inches. This allows for proper air circulation and cuts down on disease.

  6. Water transplants and seeds after planting, saturating the planting site. Keep the soil moist, but not wet by watering regularly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Poppies are relatively pest and disease-free plants.

  • Poppies tolerate frost and once weather warms the blooming decreases.

  • Sow annual poppies seeds in two-week intervals to prolong the blooming period.

  • Gardeners living in areas where temperatures are consistently hot can plant poppies in an area receiving partial sun.

  • Trim off spent flowers to promote further blooming.

  • Iceland poppies will not grow well in areas where winter weather is extremely wet.

  • Poppies work well grown in containers and placed around the garden area.

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