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OT - Poppies

I've never met a poppy I didn't like & many of them, particularly the
Papaver clan, work well in beds or borders with bearded irises as well
as spring-flowering bulbs & various perennials. There are some tricks to
growing poppies because virtually none of them tolerate having their
roots disturbed, especially those that grow long tap roots. In my very
short growing season, most of the annual Papavers don't make it to
flowering from seed unless they're started indoors & even those that are
perennial here are better off if pot-grown for a while before being
planted out in the open.

What I do is sow a very few few seeds in those weird peat pellets that
puff up after they're soaked in water. (The peat *pots* are no good here
-- they don't break down when planted in my dry soil & do wick moisture
away from the seedlings, even if the top portion of the pot is torn away
before they're sunk in the dirt.)  I peel the "netting" back a bit after
soaking the pellets, loosen up the soil & shake a few seeds on top (but
don't cover them), put the peat pellet into a tiny pot for support &
place under lights. The peat pellets come in a couple of sizes &, if you
can find them, the "tall" ones are best but the shorter, regular ones
will work, too.
It's best to water from the bottom until the seedlings are well up, then
I use a turkey baster to water from the top, being careful not to
flatten the seedlings. I let the top of the soil get pretty dry between
waterings -- most Papavers swoon if they get too much water. I usually
have several plants growing in each pellet but don't bother to thin them
-- most types will grow on in the garden even if crowded but anyway,
natural attrition takes care of the problem.

Once they've been hardened off -- & even the annual types can tolerate
some frost -- I dibble holes in the garden about the same width & depth
as the peat pellet, drop in the whole thing & tamp lightly, then let 'em
grow. This method has worked just dandy with Shirley, "Sleepy", Flanders
Field, Prickly, Oriental & Iceland Poppies (the last 3 very long-lived
here), plus several without common names such as P. atlanticum & P.
spicatum. I have a bunch of ones new-to-me to try this year from seed
but much as I'd like to have them, I won't attempt the blue poppies
(Meconopsis) because I can't offer the rich, moist soil they require. 

I collect seeds each year from the poppies I grow & occasionally have
volunteers but can't count on such, nor have I had a lot of success with
just scratching seeds into the soil except with California Poppies
(Eschscolzia). If you like poppies & want to learn more, there's a fine
book from Timber Press titled "Poppies" (surprise) by Christopher
Grey-Wilson. It has wonderful photographs & covers the subject well --
there are a lot more kinds of poppies in the world than you might think!

Marte in the mtns	Zone 4/Sunset 1  Colorado

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