Papaver orientale, or oriental poppy, is a poppy native to the Middle East and parts of Asia. Oriental poppy can be cultivated throughout most of North America with a hardiness down to Zone 3. It is cultivated in many parts of the world as a crop and an ornamental flower. The seeds can be collected when the pods turn a grayish brown. They can be used for culinary purposes similar to somniferum poppy seeds, and the flowers work well in cut floral arrangements. Oriental poppies are characterized by a double layer of petals along with several dark bands emanating from the center. The foliage, stems and buds are covered in hairs. Like the peony and somniferum poppies, Oriental poppy has been a common feature of poetry and art dating well into ancient times. In fact, oriental poppies have arguably the most majestic blooms with a vast portfolio of unique colors and cultivars. This packet is a mix of several different varieties.
These seeds are easily grown outdoors in full sun by scattering the seeds on the surface of the soil and pressing them in. Some growers actually prefer to mix the seeds with a loose, fine soil or sand and then scatter the mix. Sow the seeds in early spring or in the fall if your bed is prepared before the winter. Sowing in the fall may not work if the winters are especially cold. Seeds sown in the fall will germinate the following spring when the temperatures are right. An early start is important because the seeds will germinate best at temperatures of about 60 degree Fahrenheit. Transplanting is not recommended unless it can be done carefully without disturbing the roots at all. A light, well-draining soil is important. A mix of compost, sand, peat moss and vermiculite will work. Add lime if the soil is acidic. Keep well-watered but not soggy, particularly until the plants are established. Fertilize monthly with a high-phosphorous fertilizer. It is normal for the plant to die back after flowering during the hotter parts of the summer. But a second bloom during the early fall will often occur. After the foliage has died back, mature plants can be divided at the roots to make root cuttings. Mulching above the roots will help ensure a return the following year.