The Q&A Archives: Poppies

Question: I love poppies. 2 years ago I found 2 small poppy plants at my local Home Depot and brought them home with me. One grows very few leaves and puts out 2 small flowers each year and then seems to shrivel up. The other plant has a very vigorous growth of leaves but does not flower. Neither seem to grow larger or have more stems, shoots or flowers. this is their 3rd summer and I would like some more prolific growth and blooms. What should I do?

Answer: You didn't describe the growing conditions so I don't know if they're unhappy with the site. Poppies grow best in sunny places and they love heat. The one that is lush and green may be getting too much nitrogen fertilizer (nitrogen promotes green growth but sometimes at the expense of flowers). I'd allow the flowering plant to produce seeds and then either collect the seeds to plant elsewhere or allow the seeds to spill on the ground and make new plants. In the spring, dig the new plants and plant them in containers that you can put in full sunshine. Once you get these new plants to grow well you can transplant them the following year into a well prepared flower bed. To help the roots grow and the plants thrive, amend the planting bed with some organic matter (compost, aged-manure, etc.) before planting and try to find the sunniest, warmest garden spot you can. Water the plants well once or twice a week and withhold fertilizer. They should grow and bloom well for you under the right conditions.

Best wishes with your poppies!

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