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Matilija poppy attracts immediate attention, thanks to its flowers’ resemblance to fried eggs. Measuring 6 inches wide, the blossoms (which last from May through September) come with white petals that resemble tissue paper and round centers the color of egg yolks. The foliage is a soft blue-green. The best places to site this creeping perennial, which is native to dry, sunny areas in the American Southwest, include slopes and native plantings where it can expand and create a colony. It is an especially good choice for stabilizing banks and preventing erosion.
Matilija poppy also makes a striking but short-lived cut flower. Harvest blossoms while they are still in the bud stage. Recut each stem right before adding it to a vase. Expect blossoms to last about three days before they start dropping pollen and petals.
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garden plans for Matilija poppy
Matilija Poppy Care
Fall or winter is the best time to plant this big, beautiful perennial. For best results, plant it in well-drained soil and full sun where its future blossoms will appeal to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. This plant will also bloom in dappled shade.
Before removing this poppy from its nursery container, water it well. The moist soil will clump together and help prevent damage to the plant's root ball—which should not be broken apart during planting. Even though this is a drought-tolerant perennial, water it thoroughly after planting and continue watering weekly throughout the first growing season. Once this poppy is established, you may not need to water it ever again. Matilija poppy commonly goes dormant in the heat of summer or in fall. Cut it back to a 3- or 4-inch stalk at that time, knowing the poppy will reappear in spring.
Be patient; Matilija poppy is tricky to get started because it doesn't like being transplanted or grown from seed. Once established, though, watch out! It will spread quickly by underground rhizomes and can invade distant areas of the landscape—which means it's not a good choice for small yards or containers. Prevent Matilija poppy from creeping into other areas by installing a root barrier at planting time. This solution can be as simple as planting it in a pot that is sunk into the ground. Situate the pot so the edge of the container is about two inches above the surrounding grade to prevent it from growing out of the pot and into nearby soil.
Smaller plants cannot compete with Matilija poppy plants, which may reach up to 8 feet tall. Partner the poppies with shrubs that can compete for available sun. Consider California lilac (Ceanothus), sugar bush (Rhus ovata), coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), or flannel bush (Fremontodendron).