Poppies come in a variety of forms, from sumptuous oriental popppies to annual field popppies that crop up on cultivated land. They grow in most soils but for the best results grow in a well-drained soil in full sun. All poppies are loved by bees, and make a valuable addition to the wildlife garden.


The larger oriental types come in a variety of flower colours and shapes, with ruffled, crimped or shaggy petals. They flower in May and June and once the flowers have gone over the foliage also dies back. Plant them in a sunny border among low-growing perennials, such as hardy geraniums, that will fill the gap when the foliage dies back.

Annual poppies, such as field poppies, are often planted as part of a wildflower mix. They're great for quickly filling a gap in a border and can also be grown in a pot.

Other poppipes to grow include blue-flowered Himalayan poppies, the California poppy and the late-flowering Icelandic poppy, Papaver nudicaule. Browse our list of six poppies to grow, below.

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Papaver rhoeas (annual)

Papaver rhoeas
Six poppies to grow - Papaver rhoeas

The scarlet corn poppy is the one most commonly referred to as the remembrance poppy. Papaver commutatum is similar and its most common variety is the black-spotted scarlet variety ‘Ladybird’. Grow from seed.

Flowers: May-Jul or Aug-Sep

Height x spread: 90cm x 30cm


Papaver orientale (perennial)

Papaver orientale
Six poppies to grow - Papaver orientale

The Oriental poppy ‘Helen Elizabeth’ is tall with big, blowsy flowers of white, red, pink, lilac and purple, usually with a black blotch at the base of each petal. Ideal for sunny borders. Buy potted or bare-root plants.

F: May-Jul
H x S: 85cm x 40cm


Eschscholzia (perennial but treated as an annual)

Six poppies to grow - Eschscholzia californica
Six poppies to grow - Eschscholzia californica

The Californian poppy has feathery grey-green foliage and flowers that may be red, yellow, white or orange depending on the variety. Grow from seed sown direct in hot, sunny spots.

F: Jun-Aug
H x S: 25cm x 25cm


Papaver nudicaule (perennial)

Six poppies to grow - Papaver nudicale
Six poppies to grow - Papaver nudicaule

The Iceland or Icelandic poppy is sown one year to flower the next. Tissue-paper-thin flowers of orange,
yellow, pink, white and red. Good for cutting, which is unusual for a poppy. Can be grown in pots.

F: Jun-Sep
H x S: 45cm x 20cm


Papaver somniferum (annual)

Six poppies to grow - Papaver somniferum
Six poppies to grow - Papaver somniferum

The opium poppy is taller than the corn or field poppies. The grey-green foliage is usually hairless. Flowers may be white, pink, red, purple or rich burgundy, as in ‘Black Peony’. Grow from seed.

F: May-Aug
H x S: 120cm x 50cm


Meconopsis (mostly short-lived perennials)

Six poppies to grow - Meconopsis poppies
Six poppies to grow - Meconopsis poppies

The Himalayan blue poppy prefers cool, damp, woodland soil in dappled shade. Hates hot, dry conditions and chalky soil. Glorious electric-blue flowers. Grow from seed.


F: Jun-Jul
H x S: 120cm x 45cm