Papaver somniferum | Breadseed Poppy ‘Pepperbox’
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.
Poppies prefers a cooler climate and grow best in loose, well drained soil, so should be planted out only when extreme heat is not anticipated. The seeds can be sown in the fall or early spring as soon as the last winter snow recedes. One can even scatter them at the edge of melting snow. (Freezing seeds for 48 hours before sowing can increase the germination percentage.) Seeds may not germinate if warmer than 60 F. Will reseed moderately each year.
Papaver somniferum, the Breadseed Poppy, also known as lettuce leaf poppy and opium poppy, is a type of poppy variety that’s used for culinary and baking purposes. Papaver somiferum means “sleep-bringing” in Latin. This beautifully shimmering purple and red fringed ‘Pepperbox’ variety grows to 3-4 ft in height and produces numerous flower heads per plant. Begins blooming early to mid summer which is when the flowers will attract a variety of beneficial insects, such as butterflies, bumblebees, ladybugs, and even hummingbirds.
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.
When dried, the large seed pods are prized by florists for flower arrangements and other crafts.
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 3-4 ft
Mature width: 12-18 inches
Hardiness zones: All