Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm Dreaming of Blue Poppies

The Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia) seeds that I bought at the Ft. Wayne Home & Garden Show are now resting on top of potting soil in peat pots on top of my dryer. I sprinkled them on late last week. The reason they're on top of the dryer is because the utility room (a.k.a. The Plant Room) has a bright south window and when the dryer runs, it provides bottom heat. I know, a heat mat would be better, but this will have to do. I doubt that the Himalayan mountains are bottom-heated either.

When I first saw blue poppies for the first time last year in Wayside Gardens' catalog, I immediately wanted them. I love blue flowers. (I like green ones, too. And purple ones. And red ones. And yellow. Oh, and white.) And then I noticed they are only hardy to zone 6. And they're expensive. So I nixed ordering them and decided they were one of the many things that I wished I could have, but can't.

Then I saw the seed packets at the show. Now, you may remember that I mentioned I have never been able to successfully grow poppies, either by transplanting or by seed. Last year, I planted two different ones by seed and never got a single sprout. The seed was fresh and from a reputable company, too. Guaranteed to grow. Except not in my garden. But here were the Himalayan Blue ones, and though they are supposed to be somewhat 'challenging' to grow (well, duh, they're poppies), I knew I'd regret not giving it my best effort. If I failed, I'd only lose $3.99 and a little bit of horticultural dignity.

They're supposed to take 20-25 days to germinate, so probably the earliest I'll see signs of potential success is April 25th, which is the day that Mom and I are going to the Cincinnati Flower Show. Maybe I'll have good news to share with her when we board the bus that morning.

Of course, germination doesn't mean I'll ever see a flower. Last year, I started several things early inside and while nearly every seed germinated, most of them succumbed to either damping off or I burned them after I put them out in the cold frame and forgot to vent it one particularly sunny day.

The gazanias were tough though, and survived everything I threw at them. I had saved my seed from the summer before and I proudly pointed this out whenever anyone toured my garden. "See these gazanias? I grew them from seed I saved from last year's blooms." And I'd puff my chest out a little bit when I said it. If you want guaranteed success starting seeds early inside, plant gazanias.

If I do manage to get the Himalayan blue poppies to sprout and then eventually bloom, you can bet I'll be posting it here in my blog and there will be a gazillion pictures and all kinds of bragging going on. However, do not ASK me how the poppies are doing if I haven't mentioned them. That would mean that I don't want to talk about it. After all, you haven't heard another word about those other seeds, have you?


Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this time it will be a success and then you can brag about it for weeks afterwards. ;-) I've seen those poppies for real and they are very very blue.

BTW good job with those gazanias!!!

Ki said...

Hi Kylee, I think I saw the Himalayan blues in the Wayside catalog too and wanted to buy them but somehow thought better of it. I may have read that they were difficult to grow? Or they were too expensive. I can't remember. But the seeds you found are pretty inexpensive so good luck growing them. Can't wait to see the flowers. I wonder if they are like some of the Papaver orientale which won't flower until the next year?
Gazanias are tough and a great flower to have in a hot dry spot where nothing else seems to grow. We bought an unusual one that looked like pinwheels last year and it bloomed for several months even surviving light frosts.

Kylee Baumle said...

ki, the seed packet says they are supposed to bloom the first year, and since they aren't hardy here, they'd better!

And I know what you mean about gazanias being able to take a frost. You won't believe it, but I potted up some of those gazanias last year toward the end of the season. I can't remember now why I did that, because I left them out in the pot all winter. But one of those plants LIVED through the winter!!!!! Romie said to me one day, "Geez, there's a dandelion growing in this pot. I wonder how that got there." I told him it wasn't a dandelion, but a gazania!

Unknown said...

Hi Kylee: I've finally made it to your blog, which is delightful. first, because I don't have time to post to various posts...I'm so very sorry about your grammy's cat, but that was an exquisitely lovely post. Perhaps you can plant something in his memory when spring comes.

Regarding Meconopsis seeds: don't be discouraged if you don't get good germination. Blue poppies germinate best from fresh seed, and they can be notoriously cranky to nurture. I don't know anything about your part of the US, but if you DO succeed in getting seedlings, plant them in partial shade in moist, humus-rich soil. They do well where I live because we're on the seashore, and the climate stays mostly cool--excessive summer heat will do them in.

For an amusing look at my first experiences with Meconopsis, visit my blog entry, "No ducks here, we're gardeners' at http://tinyurl.com/2twnux.

Wishing you the very best of luck with your seeds.

jodi in scotts Bay, Nova Scotia

kate said...

Now Frank Kingdon Ward would be happy to know that the plant he discovered continues to be grown!

The best of luck with your blue poppies... will send lots of healthy, good germination thoughts their way!

The Gazanias are so pretty.

Anonymous said...

Just happened across your blog while looking for other Indiana gardeners, but since you are a neighbor, I read some of your entries. Good luck with the blue poppies, I hope they survive. I enjoyed your wildflower photo's, there is nothing like Mother Nature's landscaping. I will add a link to my site, and check back often.

Unknown said...

Kylee, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for your Himalayan Blues! :)

I need to induct you... into the joys of winter sowing. I swear I've never had luck starting seeds inside (too much babying) but I'm an ACE at winter sowing! Go to Garden Web and hit the Winter Sowing forum to browse through their FAQs. Really.

Kylee Baumle said...

Kim, regarding Winter Sowing, you need to read my January 14th post...




Gotta Garden said...

Hi Kylee: Good luck with those poppies! I took pictures of some last year at the Chelsea show and will try to dig one up...They were gorgeous!

Looking forward to hearing about the Cincy show. Every year I try to convince myself that would be a good excuse to visit the outlaws...and every year I talk myself out of it...lol! It is an eight hour drive, after all!

Gotta Garden said...

Hi Kylee...me again! I found a pic of the blue poppies and it's up! I'm sorry it's not closer (so many people, I was lucky to get that one!)...but it is clickable. Hope it inspires you!

Anonymous said...

hi i live in calgary alberta zone 3 i was a gardener at reader rock garden before retiring,the himalayan blue poppy has been thriving in the same spot for many years planted under a crabtree.the soil is humusy clay and sandy planted on the north side of a slope near the bottom.i am going to germinate some seeds i have saved and will give progress report

Anonymous said...

hi seeded blue poppy today i reused a srawberry cotainer (the ones they come in from the grocery store ,poked holes into top and bottom , and filled with sterile mix )(this acts like a mini greenhouse) .gently pressed seed onto mix (needs light to germinate) .bottom watered and placed in the fridge where they will stay for 4 weeks .after that i will place in basement window darlene dajohnson@shaw.ca

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