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Opium Poppy Papaver somniferum

Growing Opium Poppies: Tips at a Glance

Opium poppies are annual wildflowers that come in a wide range of colors, from white to deep purple (with scarlet and pink stops along the way). Save pods and scatter seeds in spring.

  • Type Wildflower
  • Lifespan Annual
  • USDA Zones 3 to 9
  • Light Sun
  • Water Well-drained soil
  • When to Plant Sow in spring
  • Design Tip Dutch still life
  • Companions Herbs, edibles
  • Peak Season Summer

Opium Poppy: A Field Guide

Despite the fact that its name sounds like a controlled substance, opium poppy is a harmless and charming annual flower to add to an ornamental bed or an edible garden.

Like many of its cousins in the poppy family, Papaver somniferum is an annual wildflower, with varieties that will bloom in a wide range of colors from white to red to purple. If you leave seed heads in place, opium poppies will sow themselves in the garden and pop up next year un unexpected spots. “A couple of seeds may result in shades of profound magenta and desirable pink. On the other hand, they could germinate into the tawdriest hues of clapped-out mauve, in which case you are perfectly within your rights to pull them out,” writes our contributor Kendra Wilson, an avowed enthusiast who nurtures opium poppies in her edible garden.

Unlike its cousins with larger and more assertive blooms, such as the Iceland poppy (P. nudicaule) and the Oriental poppy (P. orientale), opium poppies are delicate additions to the front of a flower border. If you are trying to choose the right poppy for your garden, see our overview on the topic at Poppies: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.

Planting, Care & Design of Opium Poppies

More About Opium Poppies

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