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  • Writer's pictureSweet Pea Specialists


Papaveraceae The family Papaveraceae is in the major group Angiosperms (Flowering plants). It consists of 44 genera and approximately 825 known species. Papaver is a genus of Papaveraceae which contains 70–100 species of frost-tolerant annuals, biennials, and perennials native to temperate and cold regions of Eurasia, Africa and North America. Annual Sow seeds in autumn and spring (cool temperate). When there are several species of Papaver that: * are grown together * flower around the same time * and are insect-pollinated by common insects you are likely to get cross pollination even with self-pollinating varieties.

Papaver rhoeas (Common Poppy or Corn Poppy) – red Papaver rhoeas is a variable, erect annual, forming a long-lived soil seed bank that can germinate when the soil is disturbed as the seeds require light to germinate. Height is 80cm. Single flowers with four petals and 10cm diameter. The flower stem is usually covered with coarse hairs that are held at right angles to the surface, helping to distinguish it from Papaver dubium in which the hairs are more usually appressed (i.e. held close to the stem). The capsules are hairless, obovoid (egg-shaped), less than twice as tall as they are wide, with a stigma at least as wide as the capsule. Like many other species of Papaver, the plant exudes white to yellowish latex when the tissues are broken. Not all corn poppies that are available commercially have red flowers. Selective breeding has resulted in cultivars in yellow, orange, pink, and white. The Shirley poppy is a well-known cultivar. A very pale speckled variety, derived from the Shirley, is also available. A nearly black-flowering hybrid, known as Evelina, was bred in Italy in the late 1990s, with P. dubium, but does not appear to be available commercially. P. rhoeas contains the alkaloid called rhoeadine, which is a mild sedative. Varieties: * Angels Choir - double and semi double blooms in watercolour shades of white, cream, apricot, peach, coral, lilac, lavender, pink, merlot and vermillion in bicolours and picotees.

* Flanders Poppy – vivid red flowers * Shirley Poppy – large double, cup shaped flowers in shades of red, pink, white and bicolours.

Our P. rhoeas mix.

Link to purchase seeds.

Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy or Breadseed Poppy) This is the species that both opium and poppy seeds are derived and is also a valuable ornamental plant grown in gardens. It is undeniably illegal to grow opium poppies with the intent to make opium tea, heroin or any other intoxicating substance. However, it needs to be noted that you need to grow fields of Papaver somniferum to produce the smallest amount of opium. On top of this, the process is extremely complicated. But depending on your location, it can be illegal to grow these plants. The common name "opium poppy" is increasingly a misnomer as many varieties have been bred that do not produce a significant quantity of opium and even some produce none. Breadseed poppy is more accurate as a common name today because all varieties of Papaver somniferum produce edible seeds. This differentiation has strong implications for legal policies surrounding the growing of this plant. Papaver somniferum grow to 1m in height. Plant foliage is greyish-green appearance, the stem and leaves bear a sparse distribution of coarse hairs. The large leaves are lobed with the upper stem leaves clasping the stem, the lowest leaves with a short petiole. The flowers are up to 30–100 mm diameter, normally with four white, mauve or red petals, sometimes with dark markings at the base. The fruit is a hairless, rounded capsule topped with 12–18 radiating stigmatic rays, or fluted cap. All parts of the plant exude white latex when wounded.

Papaver somniferum Lauren's Grape

Papaver laciniatum (Feather Poppies, Carnation Poppies) The variety of poppy has deeply cut petals gathered into frilly pompons of bloom. Green-grey foliage sets off these vibrant blooms. Papaver laciniatum come in a variety of colours from deep violet and red, to salmon pink, raspberry and the white variety “Swansdown White”. These plants grow to 1m in height.

Papaver laciniatum

Papaver paeoniflorum (Peony) The flowers of this variety of poppy truly does look like a peony. They come in a lovely range of colours, from hot pink to salmon. There are even stripes and antique whites. Plants grow to 1m in height.

You can see why they are called Peony Poppies.

Papaver paeoniflorum (Peony) front with Peonies flowering behind it.

Perennial Seeds are sown after the potential of frost has passed, when the average temperature is approximately 21°C. Lightly sprinkle seeds on the surface of the soil as light will assist with the germination. Germination takes approximately 10–20 days. Oriental Poppies do not handle transplanting or over-watering well. Mulch to protect the plant over the winter. Dead heading will increase the chances of a second flowering.

Papaver orientale 'Helen Elizabeth'

Papaver orientale (Oriental Poppy) Native to the Caucasus, north eastern Turkey, and northern Iran. Clump forming habit with hairy green leaves and tall flower stems producing huge flowers in a mixture of bright colours which may include shades of red, salmon, orange, pink and white with black centres. These plants grow to a height of 80cm and enjoy full sun to part shade. They thrive in well-drained soil with a pH 6.5 to 7.5.

Oriental poppies are closely related to the great scarlet poppy Papaver bracteatum.

Papaver orientale - Coral

Click here to purchase seeds

Many States in Australia have strict legal regulations as to what varieties of poppies you are allowed to grow. This is the link for Tasmania.

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