Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Sep 13
4 min read
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poppies in a field
Written By Lara Wadsworth

Poppies are one of the most world-renowned flowers. Poppies are easily recognizable and well-loved, from the rolling fields of Europe to the roadsides of California and so many more locations. However, there are actually a wide variety of poppies available on the market that come in all sorts of sizes and colors. All poppies are best sown in the fall so the seeds can go through the winter, which triggers germination. This guide can help you choose which type is best for you, although I won’t go into detail about all types of poppies (there are just too many!).

Corn Poppies - Papaver rhoeas

These are perhaps some of the most well-recognized poppy varieties. These breathtaking annuals feature that scarlet red color that so many people know and love. They can also be called Field Poppies and Red Poppies. Of the corn poppies, there are a few variations. One of the most popular is the American Legion Corn Poppy. These poppies are strikingly brilliant while also having frost tolerance. This special corn poppy is an international symbol for fallen soldiers and is often used for remembering them at cemeteries, homes, and memorial sites. As a bonus, True Leaf Market will directly donate 10% of your American Legion Corn Poppies purchase to a veterans organization called the American Legion.

Iceland Poppies - Papaver nudicaule

Iceland Poppies are some of my personal favorites. They come in various colors and can be annual or perennial in nature. These neat mounds burst with papier-mache-like blooms. Despite the blooms appearing to be delicate, these are some of the hardiest poppy seeds on the market. Although they are named for Iceland, they are actually native to the subpolar regions of Europe, Central Asia, and Canada and will willingly grow in a variety of similar climates. Iceland Poppies are perfect for gardeners in northern climates or for growing during the winter in southern zones. Either way, they must go through a seed stratification process by either planting in the fall or artificially creating a similar environment via a fridge or freezer.

California Poppies - Eschscholzia californica

This golden wonder is among the most iconic and All-American blooms available. This delicate annual is native to the Western United States and Mexico. It has proudly been the official state flower of California since 1903 and continues to be a symbol of the adventurous spirit of those who settled in the area. These American Native wildflowers can be easily broadcast sown in the fall to reveal a burst of golden blooms all spring and into early summer. They go dormant during the high heat of the summer but are perfect for ushering in a fruitful spring for any southwestern garden.

Oriental Poppies - Papaver orientale

One of the most common perennial poppies. These frost-tolerant and vibrantly colored poppies will return year after year with little maintenance. It is native to northeastern Turkey and Iran and dry regions of Georgia and Azerbaijan's Caucasus mountains but has been sold worldwide as a garden variety since the early 1900s. These have some of the largest blooms of all the poppy varieties maturing at 8-10” wide! This variety is ideal for a perennial flower garden in zones 3-8. It readily grows in many regions without becoming weedy or invasive. Broadcast sow in the fall or start seeds indoors for early spring blooms after a cold period.

Poppy Mixes

I would be amiss without acknowledging the wonderful mixes that are available on the market. One of my favorites is the Poppy Power Pollinator Seed Mix which harnesses one of the greatest aspects of any poppy flower: its ability to draw in essential pollinators to an area. This curated packet contains nine different poppy seed varieties in order to create a well-rounded planting. The seeds can be scattered on bare earth in the fall, and with virtually no maintenance, they will grow readily in the springtime and quickly draw pollinators to your garden.

No matter where or why you’re growing, there is a poppy variety that is right for you. Within each category discussed, there are even more subspecies to explore and try out. Poppies are well-loved for a reason! They will reward your care and attention with explosive colors and hardy growth.

Lara Wadsworth, True Leaf Market Writer

I am a native of Southwestern Michigan, where I also reside, and I love all things plants! I got a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture and found the first work-from-home job I could get. Now, I spend my days writing for TLM, playing with my dog, eating delicious food with my husband, and plotting my next landscape or gardening move. I believe everyone should get down and dirty in the soil now and then. Happy Gardening!

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