The Q&A Archives: Poppy

Question: We found a poppy growing in our yard and want to identify it. It was a plant about three feet tall with one stalk and a beautiful blossom, pink, formed like a peony, "frilly" by which I mean it was very double. The color of the leaves and stalk was pale green. We saved the seed pod and hope to plant the seeds. Can you tell by this description what this might have been? The foliage look nothing like our oriental poppies foliage. Do you know where seeds of this plant may be available?

Answer: Sounds like you've found Papaver rhoeas, known as 'Flander's Field' or 'Shirley' poppy. It's a summer annual, grows 2-5 feet tall with flowers that are two or more inches across, either single or double, in colors that include red, pink, white, orange, scarlet, or salmon. There is another possiblility - Romneya coulteri or 'Matilja Poppy'. This plant grows up to 8 feet tall. The stems and deeply cut leaves are gray green, and the flowers (white) are like crepe paper and very fragrant. Try looking these plants up in a good garden encyclopedia and I expect you'll be able to tell which one you've seen. The seeds of both plants will germinate quickly when planted directly in good garden soil. The seeds for both poppies are widely available.

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