How to sow California poppy seeds outdoors

How to sow California poppy seeds outdoors

Follow our guide to sowing Californian poppies outside, for a glorious summer display.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is not at its best in February

Plant is not at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is at its best in June

Plant is at its best in July

Plant is at its best in August

Plant is at its best in September

Plant is at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

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.

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You Will Need

  • California poppy seeds, e.g. 'Golden Values'
  • Bamboo cane
  • Trowel
  • Plant labels
  • Pencil or waterproof pen
  • Watering can with rose attachment

Step 1

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.

Pressing a bamboo cane into the soil to make a drill
Pressing a bamboo cane into the soil to make a drill

Step 2

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

Sowing Californian poppy seed
Sowing Californian poppy seed

Step 3

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.

Covering the seeds with soil
Covering the seeds with soil

Step 4

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

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

Seedlings. Photo: Getty Images.