The Q&A Archives: Poppies: Breaking Dormancy

Question: I didn't get my annual poppy seeds sown in the fall. When I've tried sowing them in early spring, I've gotten lousy germination. I wonder it if there's a way to use the freezer to help them break dormancy, and if so, what's the proper method (just put the packets in or put them in moist medium?) and the minimum length of time? Thanks!

Answer: Poppies like cool temperatures to germinate--around 55F. That might be part of the problem with germination. How early in the spring have you tried in the past? How about this early (early March)? If you sowed them now there should still be enough coolweather for good germination. Cover them only very lightly with soil (I just about always sow in the very early spring and I simply scatter them in the area I want to plant in). <br><br>Or, if you'd like, you can start them indoors. Find a spot that stays around 55F; they should take 10 to 15 days to germinate. One caution: poppies don't like to be transplanted, so be very gentle, or, better yet, grow in individual peat pots, and when you set them outdoors, bury the entire pot in the soil. (Don't leave any of the peat pot exposed to the air, or it will draw moisture away from the roots.)

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