The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Poppy Seed

Question: I have lots of poppies in one area and wanted to move some. I tried transplanting without success. How can I harvest the seed to start indoors? Does it need to be chilled? Can it be planted immediately? Thanks!

Answer: As you've discovered, poppies resent being transplanted. Seedlings don't like to be transplanted, either, so you'll have more success harvesting the seedheads and sprinkling the seeds directly in the garden. If you want to try starting the seeds indoors, harvest the seedheads when they are completely dry, remove the seeds and place in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place. In early spring start the seeds in moistened seed starting mix. They'll take 10-30 days to germinate at 55F degrees. Oriental poppy seeds require light to germinate. Sprinkle them on top of the soil and press them in with your hand. Other poppies need dark conditions to germinate so the seeds should be barely covered with soil. If you're not sure which type of poppy you have, just sprinkle the seed directly in the garden and let them sprout when they're ready.

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