When you hear the name poppy, it may conjure up different thoughts. Poppies are what veterans sell on Veterans Day. Others may think about poppy seed cake or bread, or flowers whose petals don’t last long when picked.
You can usually find poppy seeds in most garden supply stores, catalogues and online, but did you know that you don’t have to make a special trip to any of those places. The next time you are shopping for groceries, walk down the spice aisle at your local market. There you can usually find a small container of poppy seeds. Not only will you get thousands of poppy seeds, you will save a lot of money over the cost of a prepackaged poppy seed from the greenhouse. These poppy seeds are generally Breadseed Poppy. This is a type of Papaver somniferum poppy. Check the label before you buy them to make sure that they have not been cooked or heat-treated in any way or the seeds will not grow. While you are looking at the container, check the best buy date. Put the container back if the date has expired.
When planting poppy seeds, there are a few things to keep in mind. Plant them in the area where you want them to grow. Not all poppy seeds will give you the same color flowers. Some poppy seeds will produce a white flower, while others will have a purple flower. It depends on the kind or brand name of spice you plant. Also, if you are growing poppies for the opium value, you will be breaking the law. You could face criminal charges.
Prepare the Garden Site
Prepare the soil in a sunny location where you are going to sow the poppy seeds. Use a garden tiller or dig the sol by hand with a garden fork. Amend the soil with about 3 inches of compost. Remove any rocks or sticks, and then level the ground with the back of a garden rake. Don’t plant the seeds right away. Allow the soil to settle for 3 or more days otherwise the seeds will fall too deep in the soil.
Fill a Bucket With Dry Amended Soil
You’ll need to wet the soil before you plant the seeds. This is best done by hooking up a water hose with a sprayer nozzle and spray the soil to moisten it. Because poppies aren’t generally planted in straight rows, you will need dry amended soil to cover the seeds. So fill a bucket with dry soil, setting it close to the garden area where you’ll be sowing your poppy seeds.
Mix the Seeds with Sand
Empty the container of poppy seeds into a bowl. It may seem like you are planting a lot of seed, but not all the seeds will germinate. Mix the poppy seeds with some fine grained sand. The sand will help you to disperse the seeds more evenly and allow you to see any areas that you missed sowing. Scatter the seeds over the top of the soil.
Cover the Seeds
Cover the seeds with the soil you have in the bucket. The seeds should be a ¼ inch below the soil’s surface. Do not bury the seeds any deeper than that or they will not germinate. With the sprayer nozzle hooked on to the water hose, turn it to a fine mist. Gently spray the newly seeded area to moisten the soil covering the seeds. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Always water with the mist setting, otherwise you will knock the seeds into the soil too deep and they will not germinate.
Papaver somniferum: The Opium Poppy
Opioids: Guilty Gardeners
Daves Garden: Seed Germination