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How to sow California poppy seeds outdoors

You will need

  • California poppy seeds eg 'Golden Values'
  • Bamboo cane
  • Trowel
  • Plant labels
  • Pencil or waterproof pen
  • Watering can with a rose
Do it: March - May, August - October
At its best: June - October
Takes just: 15 minutes


California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are hardy annuals that bring a vivid splash of colour to summer borders. After their long flowering period the plants will also readily self-seed.

How to do it

Making a drill in the soil using a bamboo cane


Make a straight drill of even depth by pressing a bamboo cane into moist soil. Rows need to be about 15cm apart, in a sunny site.

Sowing California poppy seed

Take pinches of seed and scatter thinly along the drill or you will waste seed and spend more time thinning out.

Using a trowel to cover seeds with soil

Use a trowel or your fingers to cover seeds with 0.5cm of soil. Label the rows and water using a watering can with a rose attachment.

Emerging California poppy seeds

Thin seedlings out once they're about 4cm tall and again at 8cm, so that they're spaced about 15cm apart.

Our tip

To get the best possible display of poppies, keep plants well watered until they are established.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to sow California poppy seeds outdoors
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Guernsey Donkey2 29/02/2016 at 16:18

When should we be sowing these lovely California poppies? I collected seeds from my plants last year to use this year.

Hostafan1 29/02/2016 at 16:23

they're pretty tough, I'd say you'd be ok now. Mine used to self seed in Hampshire.