Spotlight on Poppies: Icelandic Poppies

As Remembrance Day approaches, our eyes land on poppies – specifically, red oriental poppies. Last year we did a blog on oriental poppies & how they grow. This year, let’s take a peek at Icelandic poppies.

Icelandic poppies are also known as Papaver naudicaule and they originate from the northern areas of North America and Asia. Their crepe paper-esque flowers bloom in hues of yellow, pink, orange, salmon, red, and white. This 6 – 18” tall poppy is a short lived perennial or biennial depending on their location. They thrive in poor soil, but they do like to have good drainage. They classified as a zone 2 – 8 plant, so the good news is: They love our area.

Bloom time for Icelandic poppies is late spring and early summer. Like Oriental poppies, Icelandics don’t like the heat of midsummer and that’s what causes them to stop blooming. In areas where it stays cool, they will bloom all summer long.

The bonus with Icelandic Poppies is that they attract pollinators – bees, butterflies, & birds. Deadhead the old blooms to encourage more flowering and toward the end of the bloom cycle, leave the old flowers to produce seed pods to allow them to self sow.

For cut flowers, harvest the buds just as they are cracking and showing a little color. Sear the ends of the stems with the flame of a lighter for 7-10 seconds to seal the seepage or place the stem ends in boiling water for the same amount of time.

Sow seeds in the fall to yield a fresh crop next spring. Give them a try; they’ll add an element of whimsy to a perennial garden.

Sources: www.gardeningknowhow.com, Perennials for Every Purpose, www.westcoastseeds.com, www.floretflowers.com, www.davesgarden.com