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Papery petals and clear, bright colors make poppies a favorite of flower-lovers. Even though the flowers last only a couple of days, most poppy plants send up several blossoms for a two-week-plus show. Their lesser-known and more refined relatives—Iceland, alpine, Atlantic, and corn poppy—have diminutive blooms and flower in spring or summer, depending on the variety.
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From 6 inches to 3 feet
garden plans for Poppy
The showy Oriental poppy has an unappealing habit of dying back to the ground in summer heat. The theory is that this characteristic is an adaptation to the oppressive heat of its native climate. Plan for poppy's disappearing act by planting late-season perennials and long-blooming summer annuals nearby. These plants will quickly fill in the void left by the poppy in June or early July.
The best perennial companions for the Oriental poppy include dahlias, Russian sage, daylily, goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, hibiscus, catmint, and agastache. Count on each of these easy-to-grow perennials to thrive in the same growing conditions as the Oriental poppy. Easy-to-grow annual companion plants for poppies include petunias, salvia 'Victoria', flowering tobacco, gomphrena, and celosia. Iceland, alpine, Atlantic, and corn poppies all thrive in mixed borders. Allow them to self-sow, and they will pop up between established perennials to create a quick cottage garden appearance. These poppies all have small gray-green leaves that blend well with other perennials. Like Oriental poppies, these small poppies often die back in summer heat.
Poppy Care Must-Knows
Poppies grow best in bright, full sun and well-drained soil light, sandy soil. They don't tolerate clay or soggy soil. Poppies grow best in cool climates. They are not tolerant of the high summer heat and humidity in the deep South and generally struggle to thrive beyond Zone 7. All poppies have a long taproot that makes them challenging to grow in the garden center and tricky to transplant. Once poppies are established in the garden, do not transplant them. Instead, let the clump expand naturally and allow seeds to ripen. If necessary, transplant seedlings in early spring or fall.