PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Perennial Poppies

Poppies are one of those plants that turns otherwise perfectly sensible people into obsessive, compulsive, insatiable collectors. Which is fine. Remember, it’s not hoarding if it’s plants.

While the annual poppies (Papaver somniferum, Papaver rhoeas) have the most outrageous color combinations and flower shapes, they require a bit more work to plant & manage, and they can be temperamental with their self-seeding capability. Don’t get us wrong, it’s totally worth the effort. Perennial poppies, on the other hand, could not be easier and their blooms in late spring are a spectacle for a couple of months. They come back on their own with zero effort on your part.

The most common perennial Poppies are Papaver orientalis. The Oriental types have bold, strongly textured, hairy foliage giving rise to many strong stems topped with huge bowl shaped blooms, typically in single colors of red, orange, pink, and purple. Each year the clump gets slightly bigger and you get more flowers and general happiness improves.

We have other species like Papaver rupifragum, Papaver nudicaule (Iceland Poppy), and Papaver pilosum which are also perennial. Their flowers are simpler, look like crepe paper, with colors in pastel to deep peachy, coral, gold, cream, and scarlet. They expand into a small colony by both self seeding and rhizome growth. One of our favorites is P. rupifragum ‘Orange Feathers’.