The Q&A Archives: should I cut the seed heads off .

Question: Should I remove the seed heads off my poppies when they are done blooming? Should I cut the plant back to the ground? Lillie

Answer: You can cut the seed heads off but most gardeners leave them on to dry so they can save the seeds. Don't cut the foliage down - it will die down on its own in mid-summer. You can expect new foliage to grow in the spring and the flowers will follow in May or June. The plants will die back in mid-summer, so you can put some tall annuals in the bed with your poppies to mask the dead foliage. You can allow the flowers to produce seedheads. When the seed capsules turn tan and the holes on top open, cut the head from the stem and shake the seeds out into a container. These can be used in cooking. Or, allow the plants to self-sow (spread the seeds on their own). Oriental poppies are perennial plants. After the tops die down, the roots will live on, and produce new foliage the following fall, with flowers in the early summer.

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