Papaver paeoniflorum | Peony Poppy ‘Fire & Snow’
Poppies are a large family of flowering plants that include annuals, biennials, perennials, and even semi-shrubs and small evergreen trees. They are found all over the globe, and in a wide range of environments, but predominantly in the northern hemisphere. Botanists have divided poppies into almost 800 different species, grouped into 42 genera. And those are just the wild species! Plant breeders have been working with poppies for thousands of years now, and the variety out there today is nearly endless. They are prized for their delicate, silken petals that glow in the suns rays. They don’t last long which makes them that much more beautiful to see. They are also highly regarded for the copious amount of seeds produced by each seed pod, making sure to reseed itself and come back the following year.
Peony Poppies, named for their fluffy, peony-like blooms, are another annual variety considered to be a ‘Breadseed Poppy’. Unlike true peonies, which can take a few seasons to get going, peony poppies will bloom the summer after a fall or winter sowing. They grow to an average height of 3 ft and their double petaled, puffy blooms measure up to 5 inches wide. The bluish-green lettuce-like foliage and large seedpods only add to the plant’s interest. This Peony Poppy is named ‘Fire & Snow’ because of the bright red puff of petals with a white underside.
To start seeds indoors, sow seeds 6-8 weeks before last frost, cover with a humidity dome and keep at 65-70°F until germination, then move to 50-60°F. Poppies prefers a cooler climate, so is best to plant outside on the last frost date. Poppies roots do not like to be disturbed, so be careful when transplanting.
To start seeds outdoors, which is the recommended method, direct sow seeds 4 weeks BEFORE last spring frost, or in late autumn if in zones 8+. One can choose to mix seed with fine sand to scatter thinly over prepared soil to avoid overcrowding. They do best in well-drained, loose soil. They can be established directly in the garden, in flower beds, along driveways, walkways & fences or even in a naturalized setting, by the masses. Peony poppies enjoy an area of full sunlight in cool regions and partial shade in warmer regions. The beautiful, big blooms attract an array of beneficial insects to the garden including butterflies, bumblebees, ladybugs & even hummingbirds.
When dried, the large seed pods are prized by florists for flower arrangements and other crafts.
Sun exposure: Part shade to full sun
Mature height: 3 ft
Mature width: 18 inches
Hardiness zones: All