The Q&A Archives: Moving Poppies

Question: I have a bed of gorgeous large orange poppies. Over the past few years the poppies have been slowly moving out of the bed into the grass. This year the majority of my poppies are in the grass with very few in the bed. When would be the best time to move the poppies back to the flower bed - should I dig them up now before they bloom or should I wait until the flowers are gone? What would be the best way to move them? I've tried transplanting them in the past but they didn't survive the transplant.

Answer: You've learned one of the lessons of growing poppies - they really don't like to be disturbed. The best time to move them is when they're dormant. Prepare the planting bed by amending with compost to provide a well-draining site. Mark the location of the plants when their leaves begin to yellow and wilt at the end of the season. Then carefully dig them after the first frost of the season, replant in the prepared bed, and mulch with a 3" inch layer of organic matter. Remove the mulch in the early spring before new leaves begin to sprout. If you keep the spent flowers removed before they form seedheads, the poppies won't be so apt to reseed themselves.

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