Sunday, October 4, 2009

Persistence With Poppies

Poppies fascinate me. Their colorful blooms blowing in the wind remind me of stretched-out cupcake papers. Orange ones make me think of The Wizard of Oz, one of my favorite childhood movies. They grow en masse along the ditch bank at the end of our road in early summer.

Oh, if I could only grow them in my garden.

Even back when I wasn't really a gardener, I tried to grow some here. Romie and I dug some from the ditch bank and transplanted them into our garden. That was unsuccessful, as were more recent attempts of digging them. I've bought them from a garden center and planted them in what I thought were ideal conditions.

All of them died.

But we gardeners are a persistent lot and we love a challenge. So, did I give up? Of course not! I responded to the poppy challenge by planting
Meconopsis betonicifolia - the elusive and much-coveted Himalayan Blue Poppy. If you're going to fail, fail big, I say.

It should come as no surprise that I couldn't grow blue poppies either. But you just never know. Sometimes what is hard for one is easy for others and vice versa. Blue poppies are difficult for just about everyone, it seems, so I'm in good company with this one. But surely there was a poppy I
could grow, wasn't there?

Shirley Poppies
Papaver rhoeas

YES! The annual Shirley Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are a breeze to grow from seed and not only that, they self-seed readily. They aren't as large as the Papaver orientale, but are charming in that papery poppy way.

But I wanted perennial poppies.

So when I found some at a great price at
Petitti's in May, I couldn't resist trying again. I bought four pots of 'Carnaeum.' I asked one of the employees what the secret was to growing poppies successfully. "Full sun and good drainage," he said.

Before we got home from that Cleveland trip, I asked the head gardener at Schedel Arboretum & Gardens what advice she could give me to better my chances of growing poppies successfully. "Full sun and good drainage," she said.

Mom came up with a great idea. She suggested I mix orchid medium in with our heavy clay soil to help with the drainage. I did just that when planting my newly purchased poppies (in full sun) and I made sure they were elevated a bit to further aid with drainage. A couple of months later, since the 'Carnaeum' still had some green leaves, I purchased a 'Harlem' Oriental Poppy at
Garden Crossings and planted it the same way.

Now it's October and you know what? All the poppies are alive and well. I know, because they are still green, in spite of the fact that poppies are supposed to go dormant after blooming. None of these ever have. I'm hoping this is a good thing and that it bodes well for this attempt at growing
Papaver orientale.

I'll mulch well and see what next spring brings!


Diana from Sweet Fields of Green said...

Poppies always remind me of my grandmother's garden by her big screened porch. She had the most fabulous poppy bed! Your poppies are a variety that I haven't seen in my area, and are truly delicate and beautiful. Maybe next spring I'll join you and try my hand at the elusive poppy too! I know one thing about them...they HATE being transplanted, so I'll have to make sure that I pick just the right place.

Thanks for sharing your Shirley's with us!

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee they will be fine !
I grow oriental poppies mostly the beautiful dark red with black centers .. YES to good drainage and mulch !! .. they always seem to put on a little greenery at this time of the year especially if we have had a good amount of rain .. that is nothing to worry about .. you will have poppies next year girl !!
Joy : )

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have had this same problem with poppies. You have given me courage and another method to try again. I hope to see all those poppies blooming next spring.

Dave@The Home Garden said...

Like you said the great thing about them is they grow so easily from seed. I had some reds and bought an orange this year. I've spread the seed around a bit so hopefully we'll see a nice crop of poppies in the spring!

VP said...

Hurrah - here's to your success both with your poppies and with your Blotanical award!

Just popped over to thank you so much for your lovely card and seeds. I've not grown Gaillardia before and becasue I'm now ripping out the border at the moment and needing inspiration for shorter growing plants in the border, you've given me the perfect excuse to do so next year :)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I've had no success with poppies either so I'm glad you passed along the secrets to growing them. I hope you are rewarded with abundant poppy blooms next year!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I love poppies too. Only have the annual self-seeding ones.

Rose said...

"Full sun and good drainage" seems to hold true for so many plants, but there has to be another secret to growing poppies. I certainly don't know what it is, because I haven't had much luck with them either, Kylee, including the Shirley annuals. Your Shirleys look lovely, and the new perennials show promise for next year. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you:) And if you find out the REAL secret, will you share with us?

sweetbay said...

I love Shirley poppies too. They come in so many colors and shades. You should be able to grow Oriental Poppies -- my grandfather grew them in southern Indiana and they did very well.

Lona said...

Kylee, thanks so much for the good advise on the poppies. I have bad luck with them also. A fellow blogger shared some poppy seed with me this fall and I have been worrying about getting them to grow after she so generously gave them to me. Now I know more about where to try to sow the seeds.

Sylvana said...

Good luck with those poppies. I find that any but the breadseed and the orange ones are quite fussy - but so beautiful! How could you not try?

wiseacre said...

Full sun and VGD- Very Good Drainage

The secret to transplanting - dig to china and remove a root ball too big to move. Break the root and the plant is done for.

Got clay? - move :(

Not sure what you meant by e-mail updates. I'm not much up on feeds and stuff like that so don't have a clue. Give me a hint and I'll see what I can learn.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I admire your attitude and willingness to try new things and new ways of doing things. Poppies are so posh. There's really nothing else quite like them. I hope yours live long and prosper.

Kylee Baumle said...

Diana ~ Yes, I can testify that they do hate being transplanted, by past experience. I even wonder about buying them in pots and moving them from the pots to the ground! But other people grow them, so I'm sure at some point, I'll have success, too. I just hope this time will be that time!

VP ~ Oh, I'm so glad you like the Gaillardia seeds. They're super easy to grow and flower all summer and fall, especially if you deadhead right along.

Congratulations to you as well, for your numerous nominations for the Blotanical awards!

Robin ~ I hope so, too. I've seen so many pretty ones. I'd like to get 'Patty's Plum' yet. I planted seeds for 'Lauren's Grape,' and they came up fine and even bloomed, but they were tiny. We'll see what happens next year.

Rose ~ You're right, Rose, about the good drainage thing. Some plants can handle poor drainage better than others, but apparently poppies aren't one of them. If mine survive, I'm not sure I'll recognize the REAL secret! But I'll sure share any other tips I encounter! :-)

sweet bay ~ Yes, I should be able to grow a lot of things, but somehow there are several that elude me. That's what keeps gardeners guessing and trying things, though, isn't it?

Lona ~ Ooooh, what kind of poppy seeds did she give you? That reminded me that there's something that Tracy Disabato-Aust told me once - when planting poppies by seed, plant copious amounts of them as early in the season as possible.

MMD ~ Thanks! I really do hate to admit defeat. Get this...a friend who visited Butchart Gardens this summer bought some seeds and sent them to me. He's not a gardener, but he picked some things out that he thought I'd like to grow. One of them? Meconopsis betonicifolia. LOL. So I'll be trying those darn blue poppies again!

Anonymous said...

I want a field of poppies too and nice to see yours. I had a few successful blooms this season and hope they will return next year. I planted mine by seed.

Nutty Gnome said...

I love poppies and, fortunately, the previous owners had planted plenty, so they grow well in my garden without me doing anything - but I haven't tried blue poppies.... yet! :)

Connie said...

I have had Oriental Poppies for many is normal for them to put up new growth in the fall. It is nice to be reminded of where they are, and a chance anticipate the next season's blooms.

Layanee said...

Mom's are so smart and since I have met yours, I know she also loves to garden. I'll be waiting to see your blooms.

Anonymous said...

Yahoo! That is GREAT news! I am a huge fan of poppies, too. They are such gorgeous, wafer-thin, blooms that add such splendor to the garden. Glad you have found a winner!

Unknown said...

Yay for success with poppies! It was just a matter of time, you know. I always had faith that you would.

Betty819 said...

Where did you buy orchid medium to mix in your soil to plant the poppies? I love poppies but have never grown them and would like to try.

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