Need a Fast Facelift to Get Your Garden Looking good? Plant these Flamboyant Blooms Now!
W hen the big fat buds of oriental poppies burst open to reveal their colour-saturated, satin petals, it means summer is here at last. From crimson and apricot to saffron and cerise, often with velvety, jet-black splodges at their heart, these fantastic blooms come in the most sumptuous array of tones. There are lots of different species, which means you can choose just the right height, colour and form to suit your garden style, but all have the signature floaty petals when they burst into flower. And they’re a doddle to grow! If you want to add a bold splash of red, you can’t beat the exuberant ‘Beauty of Livermere’ (Height 1.2m Spread 60cm, £5.99/9cm pot, crocus.co.uk).
Tall and strong stemmed, they’ll bloom through early summer and, although they tend to be quite short-lived, they make up for it with each plant producing lots of flowers. If you’re loving the trend for dark-hued flowers, the rich, deep pink, tissue-like petals of ‘Plum Pudding’ (Height 75cm Spread 60cm, £9.99/12 plug plants, thompson- morgan.com) bloom for longer than most oriental poppies, often from June through to August. Or, if you want to create a more ethereal look, there are endless pastel shades in the softest creams, pinks and peaches. As well as an enticing mix of colours, there are all sorts of textures, too, with rumpled, crinkled and ruffled blooms aplenty. And, even after the blousy flower show is over, you’ll have stunning seed heads to enjoy – leave them on and you’ll have lots more poppies to enjoy next year, too.
PICK A HEALTHY PLANT
Widely available in supermarkets and garden centres, you can buy oriental poppies as potted plants, plug plants or loose roots. You can also sow them from seed. If you’re buying a potted plant, look for plenty of healthy green foliage and sturdy stems. Avoid anything that is floppy! When you bring the plant home, pop it in your conservatory or a sunny porch for two or three days, and gradually move it outside once there’s no danger of frost.
KEEP IT ALIVE
Oriental poppies like a sunny spot with deep, fertile soil that’s well-drained. So, if your soil is on the heavy side, dig in some horticultural grit (£2.99/5kg, crocus.co.uk) before you plant them.
HELP THEM THRIVE
Mix in some general-purpose fertiliser granules when you plant your poppies to get them off to the best start. You’ll need to support them to protect them from the elements – just pop a support in when you plant. Although the seed pods are gorgeous, the plant will be stronger if you cut it back once it’s finished flowering.
GATHER THE SEEDS
Spread out poppy seed pods on newspaper in a warm room and leave them for a couple of weeks. The seeds are dry once you hear them rattle in the pod when you shake it. Store in paper bags for scattering in the garden next year.
The shimmering silky petals of oriental poppies flutter on a summer breeze to add a delicate touch to your planting scheme.
FILL A VASE
After cutting your poppy stems, plunge the ends of the stems into boiling water for a few seconds, then transfer to a vase of tepid water. This will help keep them fresh for longer.
STAR OF THE SHOW
While usually grown in the ground, oriental poppies are also happy in containers, and you can pack plenty in. Choose a deep pot as poppies have long roots, and use a mixture of John Innes No 3 (£3/10L, wilko.com) and a peat-free compost such as Sylvagrow Sustainable Growing Medium (£5.95/15L, sarahraven.com). Stand the container on pot feet as those roots will rot if they’re too damp.
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