The oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) bears large red, white, yellow and salmon-colored flowers. Though papery and delicate looking, these poppies are perennials and low-maintenance plants. They don’t need a lot of fussy care once established.
Plant oriental poppies in the spring, leaving two to three feet between individual plants. To ensure the flowers do well, select an area with well-draining soil and full sun exposure.
Poppies need regular water during the growing season, but can handle low amounts of water in the late summer after the blooms have passed since they are dormant. During the spring, early summer and fall, water plants whenever the soil is dry to the touch. Water only during droughts when the poppies are dormant.
To get poppy plants off to a good start, cover the soil with a 2-inch layer of compost each spring.
National Gardening Association recommends mulching oriental poppies in the spring and early winter. A 2-inch layer of spring mulch cuts down on weed development, while covering the plants with 4 to 6 inches of mulch in the early winter (after the soil has frozen) will protect the plants during winter’s thaws and frosts.