red oriental poppy flower

How To Grow And Care For Oriental Poppy

Oriental Poppy flowers have been around for a pretty long time – almost three millennia, to be precise. Throughout this time, gardens all over the world have kept featuring because of their longevity and ease of growing. Moreover, today, the iconic red-orange oriental poppy is no longer the only variety available.

The petals of the flower’s blossom usually feature a dark mark at the base. As they grow, their large buds rise up while the flowers keep unfurling. It is truly a sight to behold that is only accessible to gardeners.


Read more: These 22 perennials will thrive in your garden for decades


Growing Oriental Poppy

Oriental poppy flower grows fast and blooms fast. If the spring conditions are perfect, then they can sprout within a few days. There are very few essential steps to growing this flower. However, one of them is that you choose its spot carefully. These plants hate moving. Moreover, once the heat of summer rolls around, the oriental poppy show will be over. So make sure there are other plants nearby that can prevent the spot from looking barren at that time of the year.


Here are some brief details about the historic flowering plant:

  • Latin name: Papaver orientale
  • Other names: Oriental poppy
  • Native to: Asia
  • Invasiveness: No
  • Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial
  • Sun: Full Sun.
  • Water: Water when soil becomes dry.
  • Soil: Well-drained, moist.
  • Hardiness zone: Zones 3 through 9
  • When to plant: Fall
  • Spacing: 1 to 2 ft.
  • Plant height: 1 to 3 ft.
  • Bloom period: Spring/Early Summer
  • Time to maturity: 1 to 2 years.
  • Container friendly: Possible to be grown.
  • Fertilizer: Phosphorus-rich fertilizers.
  • Toxicity: Highly toxic.
  • Deer resistant: Yes.
  • Pest resistant: Yes.

The oriental poppy loves the cooler weather during fall and early spring. They blossom right when other more common spring bulbs start dying out but not as late as the summer blooms. They begin growing afresh every fall when temperatures start falling. That is when the dormant roots reawaken.


During this time, its foliage begins unfurling and the plant gradually turns into a mound. This will remain stagnant in place during winter. Then, in spring, it will again start growing. This is when there will be long stems growing that will eventually host the bright flowers. In the middle of summer, they will usually go dormant once more. However, every winter, it will become stronger and larger.


The easiest method of growing them is by sowing their seeds directly. Sprinkle them above the soil. Make sure the place receives full dun and regular water. However, do not make the soil soggy because these plants are really fussy when it comes to drainage. It should begin growing in about 2 weeks.



From the time the buds start forming, make sure to give an inch of water every week. At other times, you can water them when the soil becomes dry. However, be careful of overwatering them, particularly when it is dormant.



The more sun you give to oriental poppy plants, the more colorful their flowers will be. So choose a spot accordingly.



The best soil for the oriental poppy plant is consistently moist (but not soggy) soil. However, it must be well-drained. Also, you use compost to enrich it.


The oriental poppy plant does not really require fertilizing. However, you can spread a slow-release type, once every spring.


Every winter, the clumps of this plant will become thicker and stronger. However, they will generally aren’t considered invasive, despite becoming more resilient with time.

Growing Oriental Poppy in containers

The best place to grow the oriental poppy plant is the garden outside. However, you can use a medium-sized container with drainage holes to grow them indoors too. Use a planting medium to fill the pots to approximately half an inch below the pot’s rim. Then, sprinkle 4 to 5 seeds only per pot. This will let them have enough room for growth. Also, make sure to water the pots a lot before you sprinkle the seeds.

Then, use a plastic sheet to cover them and place them in a spot where there is a lot of sunlight. After the seedlings start germinating, reduce them to one in each pot when they are about an inch tall. Simply pinch off the plants you don’t want so as not to disturb the roots of the oriental poppy plant.

Care & tips

The oriental poppy plant is a resilient plant and does not need much special care. However, make sure to not cut them back. Their foliage will die back naturally following a bloom.

Common problems

The oriental poppy plant can suffer from powdery mildew due to a deficiency of sunlight. It is also prone to root rot so well-drained soil is vital.

Propagating Oriental Poppy

You will usually have to divide these plants about every 5 years since the plantings can become overcrowded. You might find division to be a bit challenging because the plant has deep taproots. So, do it during late summer when it is well into its dormant stage.

You will have to dig up the whole clump of the oriental poppy plant. Then, divide it by cutting the root mass vertically into sections containing at least one eye, some stem, and taproot. Then plant them while keeping their top 3 inches underneath the soil surface.

The History Of Oriental Poppy

There are records from Egypt and Mesopotamia dating back to over 5000 years that suggest that the oriental poppy, among other poppies, was already in cultivation.

Uses for Oriental Poppy

The plant is mostly grown for its explosive but short bloom to add color to the garden when most other plants are not blooming. It also makes for beautiful cut flower arrangements.

However, the plant is extremely toxic to almost all living beings. So keep your pets and children away from it.

The oriental poppy plant is an easy decision to take since there are no negative consequences to it. It is a very hardy plant with beautiful flowers that last forever once established. They can only serve to add to the delight of a gardener.

Mayukh Saha
Freelance Writer
Mayukh is a Content Marketer and Social Media Manager with over 5 years of experience in the industry. Mayukh believes in the power of content; how it can positively impact lives, scale businesses and touch people. In his spare time Mayukh likes to read about latest tech trends and loves to travel in the nature. You can reach him at [email protected]