How to Turn Annual Poppies into Perennials

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Well, not really. But if you follow my hints, you can have those annual poppies (which, by definition, die after blooming) come back next year - and every year. It’s easy, really.

                                                    Annual poppy

Annual poppies produce huge numbers of tiny black seeds. The seed pods are quite handsome, and look good in the garden well after blooming. The pods have holes, and when the stems fall over, seeds fall out and are distributed on the soil.

                                       I'll let the seed pods ripen before picking them

If you want poppies next year, you need to have a soil surface that is receptive to the seeds. That means, if you mulch, you need to remove the mulch around the poppies so that the seeds can land on soil, not mulch. Afterwards you can replace the mulch, but only a thin layer, say an inch or so.  

                                            These seed pods are ready for picking.

Another solution is to pick the dry, brown pods and put seeds in an envelope to sprinkle on the soil at the end of the growing season, or in the spring. I like this method, and often sprinkle seeds on the snow over a bed where I want poppies. The sun heats the dark seeds, they melt through the snow, and a few of the hundreds I sprinkle land in a crevice in the soil, just waiting for spring. It helps me get through mud season.

                             My favorite annual poppy comes back every year in my vegetable garden

Sometimes I have dozens of annual poppies along my front walkway, other years just a few. But they are always a joy.

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