For a short time in the summer, oriental poppies enliven borders with a flamboyant floral display. The foliage appears early in the year, forming neat rosettes concealed by spring-flowering tulips. In late spring, tall stems yield fat buds wreathed in hairy cases, from which spill their gloriously crumpled, papery petals. Their easy-access middles provide easy access bees, butterflies and other pollinators too.
Discover more wildlife-friendly plants.
Oriental poppies can be started from seed in spring or autumn, in a position of full sun. Get them off to a good start by incorporating plenty of organic material into the soil, such as home-made compost.
Learn more about the different types of organic matter, and find out how to make your own compost.
After flowering, cut them back to ground level and you could even have a second flush of flowers in later summer or autumn.
Browse 10 stunning varieties to try, below.
Papaver orientale ‘Maiden’s Blush’
A distinctive variety with pretty salmon-pink ruffled petals. Grows to a height of 60cm.
Papaver orientale ‘Beauty of Livermere’ (Goliath Group)
This popular variety boasts deep scarlet, crepe paper blooms and an ebony-black centre. A giant among poppies, it can grow up to 1m tall.
Papaver orientale ‘Patty’s Plum’
‘Patty’s Plum’ has dark, dusky pink, silk-like petals on hairy grey-green stems. Looks spectacular within a pastel or silver plant palette. Grows to a height of 80cm.
Papaver orientale ‘Turkenlouis’
This striking variety has bowl-shaped flowers with deeply fringed petals in scarlet red, with a dark purple centre. Grows to a height of 80cm.
Papaver orientale ‘Garden Glory’
A relative of popular variety ‘Patty’s Plum’, ‘Garden Glory’ has large, double-ruffled, salmon-pink petals. Unlike its cousin, the petals don’t flop. Grows to a height of 75cm.
Papaver orientale ‘Avebury Crimson’
‘Avebury Crimson’ has papery, bright scarlet flowers on strong, tall stems. Grows to a height of 75cm.
Papaver orientale ‘Wisley Beacon’
An intensely orange, cup-shaped poppy with neat petals and contrasting black blotches. Grows up to 60cm tall.
Papaver orientale ‘Manhattan’
‘Manhattan’ bears large, blowsy, ruffled-pink blooms on strong stems. Grows to a height of 80cm.
Once finished, poppies can look a real mess. Shear the whole clump back to ground level to both keep it tidy and rejuvenate the plant. Neat rosettes may then re-grow, and with luck, more flowers.