The Q&A Archives: How to Germinate Oriental Poppy Seed

Question: I have some oriental poppy seed that I bought from Burpees. I have tried several times to germinate the seed but to no avail. The seed is so small. What do I have to do to get a successful germination?

Answer: I'm sorry the seed isn't germinating for you--that's frustrating! You didn't say if you were sowing the seeds outdoors or trying to start them indoors in a soilless mix. I don't think that poppies transplant as well as some flowers, so I'm going to give suggestions based on sowing them directly where you want the flowers to be. Poppies grow and bloom best in full sun. Break up large clods of soil and smooth out with a rake. This helps the soil make good contact with the seed, and pass the much-needed moisture to it for germination.

Those tiny poppy seeds need barely any soil coverage. You might want to moisten the soil first, spread the seed, then lightly sprinkle a soilless potting mix over them. Always moisten the soil gently with a fine spray of water or use a soaker-type hose so you don't dislodge the seeds from the bed. Keep the soil evenly moist (not soaking wet). If seeds start the germination process and then the soil dries out, they usually won't recover. Poppies can take 10-30 days to germinate, depending on temperature conditions. If this doesn't work for you, please write again so we can help you get those poppies blooming!

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