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Papaver somniferum

Opium poppy

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Key information

Plant type

Hardy annual

Flower colour






Skill level


Papaver somniferum

Plant details

The familiar flowers of this poppy make it a cottage garden favourite. It is an attractive plant with its hairy, blue-green foliage making neat clumps that suddenly erupt into bloom in mid-summer. The flowers are quite extravagant - enormous singles or huge ball-shaped doubles choked with petals, in a rich variety of colours purple, mauve, white and red. Individual flowers do not last long, but others follow, each producing a large seed-head, which is very attractive in its own right. Given the right conditions it will self-seed profusely. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Family: Papaveraceae

Genus: Papaver

Species: somniferum

Plant type: Hardy annual

Flower colour: Red

Foliage colour: Mid-green

Feature: Flowers

Sun exposure: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained/light, Dry

Hardiness: Hardy

Skill level: Beginner

Height: 120cm

Spread: 30cm

Time to plant seeds: March to May

Flowering period: July to August

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