How to grow poppies indoors

This is the time of year when I think of starting poppy seeds. Many people will prepare the ground outdoors in the late fall, sprinkle seeds and wait for spring and watch for growth in their poppy patch. I tend to forget to get my poppies started in the fall and have to wait and hope for a break in weather to plant poppies.

Note: If You allow poppies to go to seed and don’t disturb the soil in that area your poppies should reseed themselves.

The Poppy is a form of wildflower in the Papaveraceae family with many well-known varieties. The California poppy has the bright orange while my area is best known for the red flowered poppy. Other colors include white, pink, yellow, red, or blue bowl-shaped flowers of 4 to 6 petals.

There is also a form of poppy, the opium poppy, that is illegal to grow in most areas.

Most poppy flowers grow one per stem, and they come from very tiny black seeds. Poppies exist in annual, biennial and perennial varieties, and they are usually considered relatively easy to grow.

As an experiment I am also going to grow a few poppies indoors this year. I also planted my poppy bed outdoors this week (March 11th). You can never have too many poppies or any flower for that matter.

Growing Poppies Indoors

There is some debate on whether poppies can be reliably grown indoors and even why you would want to. The perennial poppy tends to need a full cycle of dormancy that the seasons and regular days and nights provide. Indoors the cycle is much harder to recreate.

So if you are starting poppies indoors use small peat pots with a few seeds in each. This will give you a better chance of viability. It will also help to locate the pots in different areas of the home or greenhouse. Germination for poppy seeds usually takes 20 days.

Poppies are a hearty, drought-resistant plant that prefers full sun but cool temperatures. This can  be a challenge to recreate indoors. Regulating light and temperature for germination can be difficult indoors, so you might want to sprout the poppy seeds outdoors and bring them inside after have fresh growth and look more like a miniature plant. That would be 3 to 4 inches tall. I am going to try starting the poppies both ways and see which works the best.

Once the poppy plants have growth place them on a windowsill that receives a southern exposure. A southern exposure will help them get the natural sun they need to grow to their potential.

I plan to place the poppies in the sun room and use unique pots and possible driftwood behind the plants. I think it will emphasis the delicate look of the blossoms.

Caring for Poppies Indoors

Once established poppies will grow quickly given the right conditions. They should receive full to sun to partial shade, but not be exposed to sweltering heat.

Their soil should be slightly acidic and well drained. If growing indoors set the potted plants on a drainage tray with pebbles.  And general-purpose fertilizer should be applied once each month to accelerate growth and keep the plant healthy.

Note: I use a compost tea for most of my plants; I find it to work the best.

Depending on the variety, poppies will bloom 65 to 90 days from planting.

A with most flowering plants pinching off mature flowers helps promote new blooms.

If you plan to harvest seeds, allow the flowers to die and dry. Cut off the seedpods and let them to dry completely. The seeds will separate easier from the seedpod once thoroughly dry.

Note: if seeds are not totally dry they will mold and the germination capabilities of the seed will be ruined.

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Denise

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