When to Plant California Poppies?


Maybe it’s no surprise that the state flower of California is the sun-loving California poppy. However, it may be a surprise to know that this cheerful plant grows across most of the United States and Canada. While the original plant was available only in orange, it now can be found in many colors, including reds and pinks. Sow the seeds for this eye-catching little plant in the spring, and in some places in the fall.

Sowing Seeds

  • In mild winter climates such as California, sow California poppy seeds in early spring, after the last frost, or in autumn. In warm climates, the seeds will germinate when the soil heats up in the spring or after the first autumn rain. California poppy seeds are sown at a depth of 1/16th-inch and will germinate in 14 to 28 days, depending on the warmth of the soil. In areas with cold winter climates, such as Ontario, sow the seeds in the spring.

Perennial or Annual

  • The poppies will grow and bloom during the cool spring and early summer, but they will go dormant during the hot months of summer. During warm autumns, gardeners may enjoy a fresh flush of flowers before the plant goes dormant for the winter. For mild climates, the plants are perennials and will return each year from tubers that have formed in the soil. In cooler climates, the poppies are annuals and will grow only from last year’s seeds.

California Poppy Care

  • These sun-loving plants are considered easy to grow, according to West Coast Seeds. They are self sowing, meaning the plants will produce seeds and release them so the California poppy can keep growing for years. California poppies are drought tolerant, so they can be grown successfully in xeriscapes, which is a type of landscaping that requires less water than many traditional landscapes.

Don’t Pick the Poppies

  • Although these poppies reproduce prolifically in the proper conditions, they do not like to be transplanted. Because California poppies are easily established and reproduce abundantly, they can become problematic. It’s best to sow the seeds where you will want them for years. Unfortunately, these are not flowers to be picked and brought into the home because the flower petals will drop off almost immediately.

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