Poppies are very easy to grow, can grow anywhere in the world, and require very little maintenance. Generally speaking, growing opium poppies can be done anywhere. As poppy seeds are very small, it can take anywhere from four days to three weeks until sprouts germinate.
The best times to start growing poppies and plant seeds is either early fall, or in the Spring. Planting in fall will result in earlier blooms the following Spring, whereas planting in Spring will result in summer blooms. Alterately, you can plant half your seeds in the fall, and half in the spring. Although the optimal germination temperature is about 60 degrees fahrenheit, the seeds will germinate at temperatures both lower and higher.
To plant, simply cast seeds on top of loose, moist soil. No need to bury them.
Be sure to be aware of all the creatures that will ruin your poppy growing experience. Birds, for one, like to eat poppy seeds. So you may need to put up a net above the seeds until they sprout. Or, you can start them indoors under lights, but be sure to start them in Peat Pellets, poppies do not transplant well at all because they have very sensitive root systems. And once they sprout, you should put down some slug bait. Slugs love to eat tender, young seedlings. I suggest using SLUGGO because the active ingredient is iron phosphate, which is completely harmless to pets and animals, and remains even after it rains.
Keep the soil moist for the first couple weeks until you see the sprouts come up. Then cut back on the watering, only watering thoroughly every few days. This helps the new sprouts develop a strong root system by forcing them to search for water deep below the surface. Plus, it lowers the chance of mold and root rot, which poppies are very susceptible to. Keep the soil moist but not too wet.
Be careful when watering not to wash away the seeds or any new sprouts. Water gently with a spray bottle, or use a drip system. I recommend a drip system with either soaker or drip hoses, hooked up to a simple timer.
After the sprouts begin to grow, you will have to thin your plants to at least 12″ apart. The more room you give them, the bigger they’ll get. When I say thin, I don’t mean transplant, I mean kill. Just pull up the smallest and weakest ones, and leave the biggest and most heathly looking. By doing this, you’ll get more flowers and pods per plant that are bigger, rather than a bunch of weak, single flowered stems. Poppies don’t need to be watered too often Maybe once or twice a week is fine. But when you do water, give it a nice soaking. This will promote strong root growth. Poppies also like as much sun as possible. Put them in an open field where they will get a lot of sun.
Poppies can thrive in both Alkaline and Acidic soils. A good neutral ph will do. I suggest using all organic fertilizers. I highly recommend Down To Earth organic fertilizers. First, add BLOOD MEAL to your soil, which is rich in Nitrogen for green growth. Also, add GREENSAND, which helps loosen compacted soils. Then, after about 6 to 8 weeks of vegetative growth, it’s time to add a high Phosphorus fertilizers for the flowring stage. I like to use a high Phosphorus BAT GUANO since it’s water soluble, you can make tea or top dress.
Poppies will begin to bloom 10 to 12 weeks from the time you plant them. Their pedals will drop after about 48 to 72 hours. Then the pods will continue to grow for the next couple weeks. During this period, it’s very important not to water them unless absolutely necessary. Once pods turn a bluish tint with a white film on top, they are ready for harvest.