Poppy

Papaver somniferum

White Poppy, Mawseed, Bread Seed Poppy, Papawer (Afr.)

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With its stunning flowers, long stems and green foliage, the Poppy is a valuable ornamental plant which can form a show-piece of any garden. This is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are derived and is known to be the only species of Papaveraceae that is grown as an agricultural crop on a large scale. Not only is it a highly ornamental plant, with culinary and medicinal applications, but it is also the source of illicit drugs.
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Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Flowering time

Summer

Harvesting

Each poppy pod can produce many poppy seeds. When the crown on the poppy pod stands up and the pod takes on a chalky texture, it is time to harvest. Cut the poppy pods from the stems and let them dry in the sun or in a dry area. When the poppy pods are dry, turn them upside down to pour out and collect the poppy seeds.

Propagation

Seed

Sprinkle poppy seed on top of the soil from Autumn through Winter until Spring - they love the cool winter temperatures! Cover them lightly with soil and wet thouroughly.

Special features

Indoor plant

Simulate its natural growing conditions by growing it indoors. This poppy thrives best in cooler summer temperatures with plenty of natural sunlight.

Pot plant

Good to plant in pots, given sufficient drainage and sufficient sunlight.

Attracts useful insects

Ants, honeybees and other nectar-loving insects visit the flowers.

Attracts birds

Special features

Origin

Eastern Mediterranean

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil type

Chalk, Loam, Sand

Frost hardiness

Hardy

Uses

Medicinal

Morphine and codeine are alkaloids found in poppies and commercially grown in India and Spain. The seed contain less than 1%.

Edible

Poppy seeds are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil. They can be dry roasted and ground to be used in wet curry (curry paste) or dry curry too. Seeds are used as bird food.

Personality

Family

Papaveraceae

Flower colour

Purple, White, Red

Scent

Mild

Problems

Pests include aphids, slugs and snails. Diseases include rootrot.
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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