Growing Papaver Somniferum Poppies:
Papaver Somniferum has been used for centuries as a painkiller, muscle relaxant, diarrhea remedy, and intoxicant.
Poppies are very easy to grow, can grow almost anywhere in the world, and require very little maintenance. As poppy seeds are very small, it can take anywhere from four days, to three weeks until sprouts germinate.
SPROUT > 3 to 14 days
The best times to start growing poppies and plant seeds is either early fall, or in the first part of March. Planting in Fall will result in earlier blooms the following Spring, whereas planting in Spring will result in Summer blooms. Alternately, you can plant half your seeds in the Fall, and half in the Spring. Although the optimal germination temperature is about 60 degrees fahrenheit, the seeds will germinate at temperatures both lower and higher. From about 50 to 90 degrees.
2 to 3 weeks
To plant, simply cast seeds directly on top of loose, moist soil. No need to bury them.
Be sure to be aware of all the creatures that will ruin your poppy growing experience. Birds, for one, like to eat poppy seeds. So you may need to put up a net above the seeds until they sprout. Or, you can start them indoors under lights or on a window sill. Poppies have very sensitive root systems and do not transplant well, so be sure to start them in Peat Pellets so you can transplant them outdoors once they sprout. The next pest to look out for would be the Slug. Slugs love to eat tender, young poppy seedlings. I suggest using Sluggo because the active ingredient is Iron Phosphate, which is completely harmless to pets and animals, and remains even after it rains.
3 to 4 weeks
Keep the soil moist for the first couple weeks until you see the sprouts come up. Then, cut back on the watering, only watering thoroughly every few days. This helps the new sprouts develop a strong root system by forcing them to search for water deep below the surface. Plus, it lowers the chance of mold and root rot, which poppies are very susceptible to.
5 to 6 weeks
Be careful when watering not to wash away the seeds or any new sprouts. Water gently with a spray bottle, or use a drip system. I recommend a drip system with either soaker or drip hoses, hooked up to a simple on/off timer.
7 to 8 weeks
A few weeks after the sprouts begin to grow (2 to 4 weeks), you will have to thin your plants to at least 12" inches apart. The more room you give them, the bigger and stronger they'll get. When I say "thin", I don't mean transplant, I mean kill. Just pull the smallest and weakest ones out of the ground, and leave the biggest and most healthy looking. By doing this, you'll get more flowers and pods per plant that are bigger, rather than a bunch of weak, single flowered stems. Poppies don't need to be watered too often. Maybe once or twice a week is fine. But when you do water, give them a nice soaking. Don't just wet the surface. Once again, this will promote strong root growth. Poppies also like as much sun as possible. Put them in an open area where they will get a lot of sun.
9 to 10 weeks
Poppies can thrive in both Alkaline and Acidic soils. A good neutral ph will do. I suggest using all organic fertilizers. I highly recommend "Down to Earth" organic fertilizers. For the first stage of growth, add Blood Meal to your soil, which is rich in Nitrogen for green growth. Also add Greensand which is rich with Potash and Iron, and helps loosen compacted soils. Then, after about 6 to 8 weeks of vegetative growth, it's time to add a high Phosphorus fertilizer for the flowering stage. I like to use a high Phosphorus Bat Guano. Since it's water soluble, you can make a tea, or use it as a top dressing.
11 weeks; Pre-Bloom Stage
Poppies will begin to bloom 10 to 12 weeks from the time you plant them. Their pedals will drop after about 48 to 72 hours. At the center of the flower is the seed pod, which will continue to grow for about two weeks following the pedals dropping. During this period, it's very important not to water them unless absolutely necessary. Once pods turn a bluish tint with a white film-like layer, they are ready for harvest.
12 weeks - Blooming Stage
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13 to 14 weeks - pods ready for harvest
Thanks for reading my grow tips. I hope this information has been useful. Feel free to ask me any other question. I will be glad to help.