Of all the old-fashioned flowers that welcome the summer season, poppies are the most brilliant—they glow like stained glass when the sun shines behind them in early morning or late afternoon. Although their silky petals look delicate nodding on their wispy stems, poppies are both easy to grow and surprisingly hardy.
Cultivated since ancient times for their beautiful blossoms, edible seeds or as medicine, poppies appear in mythology, poetry, and paintings, symbolizing everything from fertility and decadence to blood and memory. Recent breeding developments have further enlarged the range of their form and fantastic diversity of colors.
Since slugs and snails can consume your entire stand of seedlings in a maddeningly short time, apply snail bait around the poppy patch after sowing. It's very important to thin seedlings to a final spacing of 8-10” for tall poppies, 6-10”for CA poppies. Properly thinned seedlings will have room to form beautiful big plants with many more flowers, while crowded plants will stay spindly and not produce as many blooms.
To enjoy poppies as cut flowers, snip the stems just when the buds are about to burst open. For longer vase life, seal the stems by burning the cut stem ends with a lighter before immersing them in water. California poppies and are particularly well suited to cutting since they last longer in the vase than other annual poppies.