The Q&A Archives: Poppy - Perennial Or Annual

Question: In some catalogs, iceland poppies are described as perennials. I've planted these about 3 times, yet they never came back the next year. What is the actual category for iceland poppy? Second, I've never seen oriental poppy in the nurseries or gardens around my area. Is oriental poppy suitable for Southern California? If it should grow at all in Southern California, should I expect it to come back year after year? Thank you.

Answer: Iceland poppy (Papaver nudicaule) is a short-lived perennial in cold-winter regions and an annual in your mild-winter region. Papaver orientale (Oriental Poppy) is a perennial that eventually forms large clumps. It, too, has a winter chill requirement for best performance. In mild-winter areas the flowers tend to form without stalks so they are partly or completely hidden among the leaves. Neither plant is suitable for your gardening region. If you like the appearance of poppy flowers, try Papaver commutatum 'Lady Bird'. This species grows well in California and produces 3" bright red flowers with a black blotch in the middle of each petal.

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