Grow poppies in pots

Planting Poppies In Containers: How To Care For Potted Poppy Plants

Poppies are beautiful in any garden bed, but poppy flowers in a pot make a stunning display on a porch or balcony. Potted poppy plants are simple to grow and easy to care for. Read on to learn more about container care for poppies.

Planting Poppies in Containers

It is not difficult to grow poppies in containers as long as you plant them in the correct sized pot, use quality soil, and give them adequate light and water. Ask your local nursery to help you choose the variety of poppies you want. You can choose by color, height and type of bloom – single, double or semi-double.

Any medium-sized container is perfect as long as it has never contained chemicals or other toxic materials. The container needs drainage holes to prevent the plant from standing in waterlogged soil. You can also attach casters to the bottom if you want to be able to easily move your container grown poppies.

These plants like humus-rich, loamy soil. You can create a favorable soil blend for poppy flowers in a pot by amending regular potting soil with some compost. Fill the container to 1 ½ inches (3.8 cm.) from the top with the humus-rich potting soil.

Sow poppy seeds directly on top of the soil. These seeds need light to germinate so there is no need to cover them with soil. Gently water in the seeds, taking care to avoid washing them to the sides of the container. Keep soil moist until germination occurs. Carefully thin seedlings once the plants reach 5 inches (13 cm.) to about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm.) apart.

Container grown poppies should be placed where they will receive full sun for 6-8 hours a day. Provide afternoon shade if you live in a region that experiences extreme heat.

How to Care for Potted Poppy Plants

Container plants require more frequent watering than those planted in a garden bed due to increased evaporation. Potted poppy plants will not do well in waterlogged soil but they also shouldn’t be allowed to dry out. Water potted poppies every other day during the growing season to prevent them from drying out. Allow the top inch (2.5 cm.) or so of soil to dry out before watering again.

If desired, you can fertilize poppies every two weeks during their first growing season with an all-purpose fertilizer or compost tea. After their first year, fertilize at the beginning and end of each growing season.

To enjoy continuous blooms, deadhead them regularly, as pinching off old flowers encourages the plant to produce more.

Follow these guidelines and enjoy container grown poppies for years to come.

Hardy, but short-lived perennial. Usually grown as an annual. Follow along with this handy How to Grow California Poppies Guide and grow some history.! Grows to 5–60 in (13–152 cm) tall, with alternately branching glaucous blue-green foliage. The leaves are divided into round, lobed segments. Blooms are solitary on long stems which are silky-textured each with four petals. Flower colours range from yellow to orange, flowering from February to September. The petals close at night or in the cold, windy weather and open again the following morning. Flowers will remain closed in cloudy weather as well.

Eschscholzia californica
Family: Papaveraceae


Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun
Zone: 1-10, winter hardy in 8-10

Direct sow outdoors in spring after last frost – mid-March on the coast, or direct sow in autumn. It can be started indoors, but does not like being transplanted.

Sow seeds 5mm (¼”) deep, spaced 20-25cm (8-10″) apart. Seeds should sprout in 14-21 days.

Grow in any average, well-drained soil. Deadhead regularly to prevent self sowing. Very likely to self sow.


Soil These flowers grow best in loose, well-drained soil. For best results, prepare the bed well a few weeks prior to planting by enriching with plenty of well-rotted manure or compost and forking in well.

Planting You can sow poppy seeds directly into a garden bed, or raise them in pots or punnets. Sow seeds thinly, and cover with a light scattering of seed-raising mix. Water with a fine spray and keep the surface moist until seedlings emerge in 10-14 days. Transplant when seedlings are a few centimetres high, spacing plants about 20-30cm apart. Water regularly and lightly mulch around them with compost, keeping it back from the stems.


Water While waiting for seedlings to emerge, ensure the soil doesn’t dry out, but isn’t wet either – simply moisten with a fine spray of water. Continue to water by gently spraying, until plants are established.

Fertiliser When buds begin to appear, feed with a soluble fertiliser such as Yates Thrive Soluble Flower & Fruit. Continue to feed regularly at two-week intervals.


Maintenance For best results, try pinching out early buds until the plants have formed good clumps. Pick flowers regularly for indoor decoration as this also helps prolong flowering – what a bonus!

Container Growing Your Poppies

Available in both annual and perennial varieties, beautiful poppies are one of the easiest flowers to grow. Many varieties of poppies grow as wildflowers. They are also an excellent choice for adding color to flowerbeds and landscapes. They are even great for use in rock gardens and do really well in containers. By following these steps, you can grow poppies in a container.

Step 1 – Prepare Your Container

First, take your potting mix soil and fill the container almost all the way to the top. You should leave about 1 inch to 1½ inches of space from the top of the container to the soil level. As you’re adding soil to the container, make sure to work in compost with your potting mix soil before adding your poppy seeds. Avoid using common types of garden mix in your potting mix soil. These types of mixes may prevent good drainage and are not good for use with poppies.

Step 2 – Sow the Seeds

Place your poppy seeds directly on top of the soil. Never bury poppy seeds in the soil as this will prevent them from germinating properly. Your poppy seeds will also need a lot of direct sunlight; so, make sure to place your container in an area that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight on most days.

Step 3 – Water the Poppy Seeds

Use just enough water on the poppy seeds to moisten the soil. Make sure not to soak the soil and cause stress to the seeds. Do not apply water with a water hose, but use a watering can or spray bottle instead.

Step 4 – Fertilize the Poppy

Apply an all-purpose fertilizer to your poppy seed and plants about every two weeks during the first growing season. After your poppies are about a year old, you can reduce the times you fertilize the poppy plants to early spring and late fall.

Step 5 – Watering and Maintaining Poppy Plants

Once your poppy plants are mature and well established, you should water the plants three to four times a week. The actual number of times that you will need to water your poppy plants will depend upon how the soil absorbs the water. You should allow the soil to dry out between water applications. In most cases, watering every other day will allow for this and promote vigorous growth. If you live in a hot or dry area, you may want to consider adding an inch or two of mulch to help retain moisture in the soil. A good organic mulch will also act as a fertilizer for your poppy plants as it decomposes.

Step 6 – Deadhead the Poppy Plants

To promote new blooms and flower growth, you should deadhead the older, faded blooms of your poppy plants before the flowers fall off by themselves. To deadhead your poppy plants, simply pinch off the old blooms or snip them with a pair of scissors.


Poppies are the perfect plant to brighten your end of winter garden doldrums with their bright cheerful flowers. Poppies are loved by bees and get their name because the flower buds literally ‘pop’ open in the morning sun.

The Flanders poppy is probably the best known of all the poppies as it has become the international symbol for Remembrance Day. After World War 1 these poppies grew in profusion over the fields of battle with carpets of red flowers as far as the eye could see.

Types of Poppies
Poppies originate mainly from Europe and the mountains of Asia and North America with many preferring cooler climates. However with over 50 species of annual and perennial poppies there are poppies which will handle warm climates as well. Here are some of the most commonly grown types in Australia as well as a few of our favourites:

Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule)
This is the most popular of all the poppies as it is easy to grow in all climates and is readily available as seeds or punnets. It’s an annual with flowers in soft shades of yellow, gold, pink, salmon, red and white which grow above green lacy foliage. Flowers grow to a height of 60cm and it is the best poppy to use as a cut flower with their long stems and good vase life. Pick the flowers early in the morning and make sure you recut the stem and change the water each day. Great for pots, massed plantings or even as an edging plant.

Flanders poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
As mentioned above, this poppy is the remembrance poppy. It has distinctive blood red coloured petals with a black centre. Seeds of Flanders poppies are best sown in situ in autumn and they tend to do best in climates that have cooler winters. It’s also an annual but self seeds readily and is another poppy which makes a good cut flower.

Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale)
The Oriental poppy provide the largest blooms of all the poppies and makes a cracker of a display in colours of orange, pink, salmon and white. Flowers can be single or double and usually have a dark centre (but not always). Foliage may be green or a striking blue/grey colour. These perennial poppies can be purchased as plants or seed. If starting with seed sow them directly in the soil as they don’t like root disturbance. Reaching a height of 60 – 100cm they flower throughout late spring and summer and will self seed easily.

Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
This gorgeous orange flowering poppy makes a true statement in spring especially when planted en masse. Native to Mexico and the bottom of North America this poppy can take hotter, drier conditions so it does well Australia wide. While orange is the most common colour there are also bright and pale yellow varieties. Californian poppies are prolific self seeders so think twice before planting near bushland areas.

Blue Himalayan Poppy (Meconopsis baileyi syn. betonicifolia)
With stunning sky blue flowers this is the poppy everyone wants to grow! However the bad news is that for most of Australia they are impossible or extremely difficult at best. Coming from the Himalayas they require cold winters and very mild summers. They need plenty of protection from our harsh sun and are thirstier than other poppies and must be kept moist. Officially a perennial but in our difficult climate they’re more likely to be short lived. Some varieties will set seed.

Welsh poppy (Meconopsis cambrica)
This delightful perennial poppy grows well in cold areas but can handle more warmth and a bit more dryness than the Himalayan poppy. Flowers are mainly golden yellow but there are some rare cultivars around that are red and orange. This poppy works well planted in drifts under trees as it can take quite a lot of shade. In warm weather it will die down and resprout again next season. Seed takes a long time to germinate and is best sown directly into slightly acidic soil.

How To Grow Poppies
Poppies are frost hardy, easy plants to grow from seed, punnets or small plants once you’ve picked the right one for your climate. If in doubt go with Iceland or Californian poppies – they’re the easiest for all climates.

Most poppies prefer a full sun position and all enjoy lots of compost and manure added to the soil before planting. If starting with seed then sow into trays or directly into the soil. Poppies develop a long tap root and don’t like being moved so take care when planting out seedlings. Late summer and autumn is the time to sow poppy seed and it should be sown sparsely as the seed is very fine. Cover with a light sprinkling of seed raising mix and firm down. Water in with eco-seaweed. Germination takes 10-21 days. Keep soil moist during this time but not constantly wet as this can cause rotting. Thin out seedlings if necessary.

When the seedlings are ready gently plant them into the garden and water in with eco-seaweed to minimise transplant shock. Mulch with a certified organic mulch such as sugar cane.

If starting with punnets these should still be planted in autumn to allow time for a strong plant to develop through winter and to get the best flowering in spring and summer.

Fertilising and Maintenance of Poppies
If you improved the soil before planting (with manures and compost) then all that’s left is to give the poppies some eco-seaweed and eco-aminogro every 2-4 weeks throughout the growing season. This will encourage bigger plants and give you more flowers.

Remove any dead flowers by cutting off the flower stalk at the base of the plant and this will encourage further flowering. With perennial poppies foliage can be cut back in autumn when it yellows to make way for fresh new growth.

Pests and Diseases of Poppies
While poppies are pretty tough things they are susceptible to a range of rots and mildews. This can mostly be avoided by always planting in free draining soil and having good air circulation around the plants.

Protect seedlings from snails and slugs by picking off by hand and if aphids or mites appear then a spray of eco-oil or eco-neem will fix things quick smart.

Growing poppies

Poppies are beautiful flowering plants that can create an attractive and vibrant border or display in your garden. Across the world, poppies are valued by many cultures and religions all for different reasons, with some relating to their colours and medicinal attributes.

Throughout history, they have been associated with mythology, religion, politics and medicine, which has created multiple forms of symbolism for the poppy. One such example of this is the symbolisation of poppies around Remembrance Sunday in November.

There are over 100 species in the poppy family, including annuals, biennials and perennials. The most commonly known sub species of poppy plants are Papaver Somniferum (Opium Poppy), Papaver Rhoeas (Corn Poppy, Flanders Field Poppy) and Papaver Orientale (Oriental Poppy).

Tips for growing poppies

Poppy seeds need a good amount of light daily to assist with germination, so be sure to plant them in an area that has at least 6 hours of light a day.

However, it is also important to ensure the temperature is not too high, as this can damage the chances of healthy growth. For areas with more intense heat, plant in partial sun.

When growing poppies in the UK, they thrive best when planted between March and May, and August and September.
The majority of poppy species prefer slightly dry, well-drained soil and will only need fertilising once a year as they are able to survive even in poor soil.

Mix the poppy seeds with sand to help spread them more evenly in the soil.
Poppy seeds grow best when sown directly into where they will be kept permanently, rather than being grown from seed trays.

The exact conditions required for planting and sowing your poppy seeds will depend on the species of poppy you wish to grow, and the location that they will be grown in.

The different species of poppy can be grown for their stunning array of shapes and colours, to harvest their seeds to use in baking and to encourage wildlife such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds into your garden.

As with many versatile plants, these can be grown from seed in planters, pots, containers, as well as beds and borders in the garden or indoors.

Preparing to plant your seeds

Existing soil beds will need to be prepared before planting the seeds, as soil that is too rich in fertiliser or that has large amounts of clay will need to be adjusted.

Rake the area thoroughly to break up small lumps and then remove large lumps and stones. For areas with high amounts of clay in the soil, dig in at least 2 inches of compost to improve drainage.

Planting your seeds

Sprinkle your mixture of seeds and sand sparingly across your chosen area. This will help to reduce the need to thin the plants later on.

Dust a light amount of soil on top of the seeds (do not cover them) and gently firm it down to set the seeds in place. Water the area, keeping it moist but not soggy, to allow the seeds to germinate.

After germination and the plants have reached at least 5 cm in height, thin your plants to around 25-30 cm apart. At the end of the growing season, the plants can be cut back at the stems ready for new growth.

Then enjoy their natural beauty year after year!

Growing poppies in a container

This process is almost identical to that of growing poppies in a flower bed:

  1. Start by filling your container with unfertilised or lightly fertilised soil.
  2. Using the tip of your finger, make a shallow trench in the soil in which to plant the seeds.
  3. Sprinkle the seeds lightly into the trench and dust over with soil.
  4. Keep the soil moistened and in a sunny spot until the seeds have germinated.
  5. Once germinated and healthily established, thin the plants to around 10 cm apart.
  6. Water only when the top 1 cm of soil feels dry.

Care and maintenance

Poppies are fantastic self-sustaining plants that produce their own seeds and can, therefore reproduce each year with little assistance. Just leave a couple of spent flower heads at the end of the flowering season to encourage seed pods to form.

However, if you would prefer to re-plant different varieties of plants each year, remove any dead flowers by breaking the stalks a little below the head. This will help develop new flowers, extending the flowering period and preventing seed pods from forming. This is a process called ‘deadheading’.

Planting, Growing, and Caring for Poppies

The Poppy family includes many species of vibrantly colorful wildflowers that are a favorite of perennial gardeners. The flowers are attractive to pollinators like honey bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. They usually grow to at least over a foot tall, and have one bloom per stem in colors covering the entire color wheel from red to blue.

Most poppies are hardy beyond USDA zone 4, but some will survive in 3 or even 2. They are fairly drought tolerant, usually preferring well-drained soil and light waterings.

Planting Poppies

Poppies from Seed

  • Sow outdoors in the fall or winter. Most poppies require a period of stratification, or a period of exposure to cold, before they will germinate.
  • Due to their tiny size, the seeds just need to be sprinkled along the surface when sowing out doors.
  • After the seedlings start to sprout in the spring, you may wish to separate the ones that are growing too close to 6 inches to a foot apart.

Planting Bare-root or Transplanting Potted Poppies

  • You will plant your poppy plant in the summer, just before it blooms (if you ordered from Wayside Gardens, your poppies will ship at the proper time for planting in your zone). Choose a spot in full sun with well-draining soil.
  • Dig a hole a few inches bigger than the root-ball of your plant on all sides – this will loosen the soil around your plant, allowing it to spread its roots and grow more easily.
  • If your plant is in a pot, pull it out and spread the roots a little, freeing them from the shape of the pot.
  • Place the plant in the hole, and loosely fill in your soil, do not pack it down. The plant should be at the same level it was in the pot. If it was bare-root, just fill to just above the crown of the root-ball.
  • Water thoroughly.

Caring for your Poppy

  • Your poppy will always need full sunlight and well-drained soil.
  • Because of the relatively short bloom-span, different varieties and annuals are often planted in the flower beds with poppies to keep the garden full of color year-round.
  • Dead-head to prevent seeding and spreading, but if you let them seed, your poppies will spread and naturalize nicely.
  • At the end of the summer, it is okay cut the stems back to the ground when they die back.

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