Ask a Question forum: Watering poppy seeds that are planted outside?

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Name: Jane
Tobyhanna, PA (Zone 5a)
The "Garden" is my Happy Place!
Garden Ideas: Master Level
Mar 3, 2016 11:35 AM CST
This may seem like a silly question, but are you supposed to water poppy seeds that are direct sown outside in winter? I sowed some annual poppy seeds outside about 2 weeks ago. I watered them in well when I first planted them, and I also watered them a few times when we had no rain/snow for a span of 4-5 days. The seed package states to keep the seeds moist until they germinate. In between, we have had plenty of frosts, some light snow cover etc. Do I just let Nature do the job of keeping them moist?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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Mar 3, 2016 2:10 PM CST
I wouldn't water them until you're somewhat close to being past your last frost date, Jane. Wet and cold can cause seeds to rot instead of germinating. Or if they do germinate early then get slammed by frost you lose the seedlings too.

Once the nights are dependably above 40 or so, I'd say you should keep them moist. Or sow them somewhere more protected, like the south side of your house or garage, where they will stay warmer on cold nights, and then you could start misting them sooner to encourage germination.

I'm thinking back to when I had poppies that came back each year (self-sowed) when we lived in Utah, and yes, they were on the south side of the house under the overhang, where it was a great little warm micro-climate and things regularly bloomed a month earlier than the rest of the garden.

Oops, I forgot to ask what kind of poppies they are? - Shirley poppies are a lot cold-hardier than California poppies.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Mar 3, 2016 2:59 PM CST
It all depends upon what poppies you are growing. California Poppies will reseed year after year is they don't have to compete with other plants (In warmer areas, the root survives so no self-seeding necessary). Icelandic Poppies will happily reseed also.

Name: Jane
Tobyhanna, PA (Zone 5a)
The "Garden" is my Happy Place!
Garden Ideas: Master Level
Mar 4, 2016 1:59 PM CST
Elaine, thanks for the info. This year I sowed annual papaver somniferum (breadseed) poppy seeds directly in the garden. In the past, I have also grown Shirley poppies and California poppies ... but in pots. I started them a bit later though.

Daisy, I love California poppies, but they don't reseed here ...winters are too cold. I have to remember to try Icelandic poppies. They would probably do very well.

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