Why We Love Oriental Poppies (And You Should, Too!)

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“Letting the seeds do their work”

 

I never knew how much I loved Oriental Poppies till the last two years.  When I moved into my house nine years ago, I found a garden bed filled with Rose of Sharon, and the invasive Japanese Honeysuckle shrubs.  Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) has lovely purple or white flowers but it can take over an entire garden bed with its tenacity to send out seeds in the fall leading to a multitude of new Rose of Sharon plants in the spring. 

Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) is an extremely aggressive grower in New Jersey.  The shrub had turned into two trees from years of growth.  This garden bed with about four oriental poppies was shaded and over run by Rose of Sharon and the Japanese Honeysuckle.  After a series of heavy fall rainfalls, I knew it was time to rip out every Rose of Sharon and dig up the Honeysuckle.  Luckily, my heavy clay soil was soft and wet making my job so much easier.  I had no idea that by taking out these two species I would make a bed of Oriental Poppies without doing a thing, (besides getting rid of the invasive plants!)  The next May, I had over 50 orange poppy flowers, this year I had over 100 poppy flowers.  Incredible! I let Mother Nature do all the work and the poppies exploded!  The Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) loves six hours of sun a day and it is important to let the seed heads open on their own, to assure that they will keep coming back every year.  One key thing to remember is that when the poppies go to seed, your garden bed will look messy and unkempt.  Don’t cut back the poppies until all the seed heads have opened and naturally spread their seed since that is your flowers for next spring.

 

Since I have had success with oriental poppies I would love to add blue and purple poppy flowers like the poppy I saw at Longwood Gardens, PA.  I have purchased and planted these seeds, but no blue and purple poppies yet.  Maybe next year…

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