2ft x 2 ft, erect oval growth. Late spring/early summer blooms in red, white, pink, or purple. Rich, deep, slightly alkaline soil with moderate moisture. Full sun or afternoon shade. Illegal to grow in some states, may be illegal to sell or buy seeds in other states. Cocaine production illegal everywhere.
March 5. The first day. Seeds sown in ProMix, watered from below, sealed in a plastic bag, and placed in the dark overnight.
March 6. Pack was moved to a dormer window with bright, indirect light in a warm room.
March 9. Sprouts appear. The bag was opened for about 2 hours, then sealed again.
Oh, no. I really over seeded. The thin, weak seedlings are elbowing each other for breathing room. Worse, there are spots of white fuzz at soil level. Could they be mildew or fungus? I consulted with WV Sprout, and her Shirley poppies had the same fuzzy spots. I examined mine with a magnifying glass that I keep handy (old eyes), and she looked at hers with normal eyes (no comment). The fuzz seemed to be thin white hairs on the stems of only the younger seedlings. So we decided to wait and see what happened.
Spooked by the false alarm, I decided to tent the pack with the bag split halfway up on both sides, giving cross ventilation. This arrangement also made more head room for the shockingly fragile seedlings.
March 15. Removed tent and moved pack to a sunnier window. Two days later thinned seedlings by cutting some at soil level. Continued to water from bottom as needed.
The seedlings didn't seem to be growing much and were a tangled mess. I decided to thin them by cutting some with pointed manicure scissors. The GCA manual suggests doing this when transplanting if seedlings are too crowded, but I wanted to see what would happen. I thinned 3 of the most crowded sections and left 3 as they were.
|Before thinning. Upper sections very crowded.|
March 22. Placed pack under grow light placed 6" above. Timer set for 16" hours on, 8 hours off.
No real growth in several days, although some seedlings now have first set of real leaves. WV Sprout gave me a plant light bulb, so the pack now has consistent, full spectrum light. I put a piece of white poster board behind the pack to get reflected light, hoping the extra boost would help the puny seedlings to duke it out. Kind of like a neo-natal ward for seedlings.
|White reflects full spectrum light, potentially doubling light source.|
April 21. Seedlings haven't grown much in height but are more upright and look sturdier. A few have also put out the second set of true leaves.
of soap in nylon stocking. Two small seedlings underneath.
May 17. Results of three plantings under tepees: seedlings of one tepee are gone, those of another had disappeared but last week reappeared, and those of the last tepee have grown and look vigorous. The Irish Spring fortifications will remain for now.
I'm hoping one planting might do well enough to produce seed in time for the seed exchange. All three tepees will be left standing, just in case the disappeared seedlings return. Interestingly, a few bloggers reported that seeds given up as failures have sprouted long after their projected germination dates.
Note: the outdoor sowing of Shirley poppies is much more successful. The weather fluctuations, very cold and rainy days alternating with very hot and humid ones, hasn't bothered them. They're in a raised bed with loose soil and full sun exposure.
July 16, 2014. One of the three plantings has survived. There are two plants in the area, one 22" tall and vigorous, the other 6" tall and weak. The vigorous one has lush, silver-gray foliage; blooms appeared about two weeks ago. The tepee was removed six weeks ago, with no deer damage so far.
Oh, joy! While not successful in quantity, the poppy project outcome makes me happy. The one surviving poppy plant is magnificent, at least in my eyes. Each bloom doesn't last more than a couple of days before starting to decline, and I envisioned bright red blooms, but that's OK. The pink flowers are very lovely, and their ephemeral nature inspires me to visit daily. I'm planning on sowing seed outdoors--early in spring--next year.
I wish I had lots of these intriguing plants. The foliage is striking and not bothered by our drastic weather, which has ricocheted from near 90 degrees to 60 every couple of weeks. The flower petals are like little wings of silk, but they last only a short while. The most I've seen at one time is 4.
Unripened seed heads hold a long time, adding visual interest.
(Note on Shirley poppies: much smaller pods, same method of lid opening. Seeds are like dust!)
The pods took so long to mature, I thought I'd never get seeds in time for the Meniece workshop. I started checking every day, and suddenly I noticed one pod had a raised lid. The "umbrella spokes" section had lifted to make open spaces, like windows, above the pod's body. When I tipped it, seeds fell out. So this was the dispersal mechanism of the opium poppy. Now that I knew what to look for, I was able to harvest several pods. This one plant is sending lots of seeds to California!
June 10, 2015 (posted by WV Sprout)
Guess what showed up in my yard this spring! After thinking I would not try the poppy again as I did not have any luck last year I had a huge surprise. Several of the poppies have shown up both in my vegetable garden area and in a second area where I threw out seeds. I have several that have flourished - with beautiful blooms. I am delighted and can grow them after all. Certainly not the abundance that are seen in cooler, less humid areas, but they are here. I will let a few go to seed hoping for more and save seeds to share with the others. I thought this one particularly beautiful as it is a great contrast against the red of my tomato cages.
Cold Climate Gardening: Collecting Poppy Seeds.
|You can see the windows in the|
seed pod in the background with
the windows popped up.
|All of this from just one!|