14 Beautiful Garden Poppies

Oriental Poppies

Johner Images / Getty Images

The papery texture and brilliant colors of poppy blooms give this plant nirvana status for some gardeners. The Papaveraceae family of plants includes several genera and dozens of species of poppies, but the most common garden poppies are found in the Papaver genus, with the most prominent species being P. orientale, and P. somniferum. There are, however, other species of poppies that true plant geeks might want to consider. Most poppies are short-lived perennials, and some are annuals.

Successful poppy gardening seems to fall somewhere between the intermediate "I got lucky" end of the spectrum, and "a little know-how yields great dividends" when it comes to this classic cottage garden favorite.

Full sun and loamy, loose soil are two essentials for growing great poppies. A mild summer climate is a bonus. If these conditions are met, most gardeners will enjoy success. Tall varieties are prone to flopping, so staking might be necessary.

The spring and early summer flowers are rather ephemeral, lasting only a day or so, and once all the blooms fade, the foliage is rather unattractive; most gardeners prune back foliage severely and allow other plants to fill in gaps for the summer.

Here are 14 varieties of poppies to grace your garden.

Gardening Tip

Poppies grow from long tap roots that do not take kindly to digging and moving. And the plants require considerable care when dividing to propagate new plants. Dig very deeply, and take care that each clump division has some sections of the long, carrot-like roots, some of the above-ground stem, and at least one growth eye.

  • 01 of 14

    'Patty's Plum' (Papaver orientale 'Patty's Plum)

    Patty's Plum Poppy
    Photo: Roger Smith/Getty Images

    Juicy plum and blackberry tones look positively bewitching in the late spring flower garden. 'Patty's Plum' oriental poppy features 6-inch blooms on 30-inch stems and will tolerate average soil while deflecting hungry deer. Although plants will self-seed, the new seedlings might not produce the coveted purple blossoms. It's best to remove faded flowers to prevent self-sowing. A simple root division is the preferred method to propagate oriental poppies

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–7

    Height: 24 to 30 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 02 of 14

    Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis baileyi)

    Blue Poppy
    Photo: Frans Sellies/Getty Images

    When you spy the first buds emerge from the Himalayan blue poppy, you know that really good things are about to happen. Congratulations, you successfully cultivated a poppy from the Meconopsis genus. Blue poppies have a mystique that transcends their sky blue petals. Before you attempt this gardening hat trick be aware that these plants, which are endangered in their native habitat, require consistently moist and cool weather.

    Native Area: Tibet

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-7

    Height: 2–4 feet

    Sun Exposure: Part shade

  • 03 of 14

    'Black and White' (Papaver orientale 'Black and White')

    Black and White Poppy
    Photo: Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    Like the tuxedos of the landscape, 'Black and White' oriental poppy lends elegance and charm to any garden border. The stark contrasting tones of black and white on crepe petals look arresting in flower arrangements, but be sure to sear the stems with a flame to prevent the milky sap from flowing into your vase water.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–8

    Height: 2–3 feet

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 04 of 14

    California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

    California Poppies
    Photo: Richard Cummins/Getty Images

    Unlike oriental poppies, the California poppy is grown as an annual in most regions, completing its life cycle in one growing season. However, these North American natives are very drought tolerant and inexpensive to grow, making them excellent candidates for wildflower gardens. Good cultivars include 'California Golden', 'Mission Bells', and 'Golden West'.

    Native Area: Western U.S.

    USDA Hardiness Zones: Hardy in zones 6–10; grown as an annual elsewhere

    Height: 12-18 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    'Helen Elizabeth' (Papaver orientale 'Helen Elizabeth')

    Helen Elizabeth Poppy
    Photo: Anna Yu/Getty Images

    For gardens that need a touch of romance, let the 'Helen Elizabeth' oriental poppy come to the rescue. The petals exude that warm, wonderful peachy-pink glow. When the plants have finished blooming, plant some cosmos around them to close in the gap that is left when foliage fades into summer dormancy.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–9

    Height: 2–4 feet

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 06 of 14

    'Tallulah Belle Blush' (Papaver somniferum 'Tallulah Belle Blush')

    Tallulah Belle Blush Poppy
    Photo: Maria Mosolova/Getty Images

    What a cheerful departure from the norm gardeners can claim in the pompom blooms of 'Tallulah Belle Blush' poppies. This subtype of the opium/ breadseed poppy is an annual variety that reportedly might not produce the latex from which opium is derived. Be aware, however, that in some conservative jurisdictions, growing any variety of P. somniferum might draw the attention of law enforcement agencies.

    The hefty blooms of this poppy benefit from some some support: grow-through plant hoops or even tomato cages.

    Native Area: Eastern Mediterranean

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–8 (grown as an annual)

    Height: 24–36 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 07 of 14

    Black Poppy ( Papaver somniferum paeoniflorum 'Black')

    Black Poppy
    Photo: Juliette Wade/Getty Images

    For gardeners who embrace the moody trend of black flowers, 'Black' is to die for. This plant belongs to a subtype of opium/ breadseed poppy known as the peony poppy (P. somniferum paeoniflorum), known for its full-bodied blooms that resemble peonies. Of course, no real blossom is so rich in the pigment melanin as to be completely black, but the deepest purple or maroon flowers do appear nearly black on a cloudy day. Like other opium/breadseed poppies, 'Black' is an annual variety.

    Extend your black flower display with other seasonal blooms like black pansies and black bearded irises. Or, plant a contrasting stand of white spring flowers, like foxgloves.

    Native Area: Eastern Mediterranean

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–8 (grown as an annual)

    Height: 2–3 feet

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 08 of 14

    'Orange Glow' (Papaver orientale 'Orange Glow')

    Orange Glow Poppy
    Photo: Roger Smith/Getty Images

    The heavily ruffled petals of the oriental poppy 'Orange Glow' are a beacon on cloudy spring days. Plants are very hardy and will survive winter temperatures down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–7

    Height: 24-36 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    'Khedive' (Papaver orientale 'Khedive')

    Khedive Poppy
    Photo: Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    Discover the most pale salmon tones that flatter all garden designs and planting companions when you add 'Khedive' poppies to your garden. After flowering, leave the ornamental seedpods intact for textural interest in the landscape.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–8

    Height: 12–18 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 10 of 14

    'Goliath' (Papaver orientale 'Goliath')

    Goliath Poppy
    Photo: Georgianna Lane/Getty Images

    'Goliath' poppies bear huge flowers on four-foot stems that shimmer in the June garden. When planted in loose soil and full sun, these plants establish deep taproots that result in many years of blooms.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–7

    Height: 40–48 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 11 of 14

    'Picotee' (Papaver orientale 'Picotee')

    Picotee Poppy
    Photo: Ron Evans/Getty Images

    Do you have room in your flower border for a few 'Picotee' oriental poppies? The fully double blooms sport creamy centers with frilled orange edging and add something special to any cut flower arrangement. The bowl-shaped blossoms are quite large at 4 to 6 inches across.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–7

    Height: 2–3 feet

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 12 of 14

    'Pink Ruffles' (Papaver orientale 'Pink Ruffles')

    Pink Ruffles Poppy
    Photo: Ron Evans/Getty Images

    It's difficult to imagine a bloom that's more exuberantly feminine in texture, color, and name than the Oriental 'Pink Ruffles' poppy. Plant them among delicate Gysophila baby's breath plants, which will hide the poppies' fading foliage in the summer.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–8

    Height: 24–30 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    'Turkish Delight' (Papaver orientale 'Turkish Delight')

    Turkish Delight Poppy
    Photo: Neil Holmes/Getty Images

    'Turkish Delight' is a descendant of the first pinkish-salmon oriental poppy to be bred by Amos Perry in the early 1900's. This accidental sport, later named 'Mrs. Perry,' was the beginning of many new poppy color choices, after centuries of the same reddish-orange hues.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–9

    Height: 24–36 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

  • 14 of 14

    'Turkenlouis' (Papaver orientale 'Turkenlouis')

    Turkenlouis Poppies
    Photo: Maarigard/Getty Images

    Glowing crimson petals punctuated by deep fringing ensure that 'Turkenlouis' poppies will steal the show in your late spring or early summer garden. This poppy variety is an excellent choice for gardeners looking for a low-care perennial that attracts hummingbirds.

    Native Area: Caucasus, northeastern Turkey, northern Iran

    USDA Hardiness Zones: 3–8

    Height: 30–36 inches

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

Article Sources
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  1. Ondra, Nancy J. The Perennial Care Manual: a Plant-by-Plant Guide: What to Do and When to Do It. Storey Publishing, LLC, 2012

  2. Papaver Somniferum. North Carolina State University State Extension