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Easy to Grow California Poppy Guide


Chances are that you have admired the beauty of the California poppy from afar, but you have not yet considered planting this wildflower in your yard. The impressive poppy is easy to grow when you present it with the right conditions. More than that, it will add a stunning pop of color to your gardens that can be enjoyed for many months each year. With a closer look at what it takes to grow the California poppy, you may quickly decide to plant poppy seeds in your garden.

The Beauty of the California Poppy


California poppies are wildflowers that are native to many areas in California and across other western U.S. states. They are most prevalent in the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, which runs across Los Angeles County. As a native species, these plants grow well when they are not coddled. These flowers are also called Cup of Gold, which is a fitting name for this yellow flower with lightweight petals and leaves that flutter in the wind. You may find them blooming in the spring in other beautiful colors, including orange, white and pink. The California Golden variety has brilliant orange blooms. The Golden West variety shows off slightly deeper orange tones. Mission Bells is another variety, and it usually has salmon, cream and pink hues.

California poppies grow abundantly and quickly, and they can reach a height of up to 12 inches tall. This makes the California poppy the perfect plant to fill in the empty spaces in your gardens or even to plant in a removed area of a large yard. California poppies also grow well in containers.

The Perfect Location for Vitality and Growth


While the California poppy is easy to grow in climates similar to those found in the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, they must have the proper environment to thrive. These are tender perennials that can return every spring after they have been established in your yard or gardens. If you plant them outside of the USDA growing zones 8 to 10, they can be planted as an annual. California poppies require full sun to grow, and they prefer poor to average soil conditions. Ideally, the soil pH will be between 6.6 to 7.5. If your yard has clay soil, it is best to plant the California poppy in a container or a raised bed.

With these factors in mind, you should choose an open area of your yard or garden that receives ample sunshine throughout the day. Preferably, the area should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. They also prefer dry soil. Avoid planting them close to vegetation that you need to fertilize regularly or water frequently.


Regular Care Instructions California Poppy

After selecting the perfect location to plant your California poppies, you can plant the seeds in the ground or in a container. The California poppy develops long taproots, so the seedlings do not respond well to being transplanted. You should grow them from seed in their permanent location. Regardless of what growing zone that you plant them in, container-grown California poppies will act as annuals and will need to be grown from new seed every year.

After the last freeze of the year, simply press the California poppy seeds into the ground so that they are just beneath the surface. To avoid moving the seeds, water them sparingly. Within two weeks, you will notice their bluish-green sprouts popping up. The seedlings should be spaced approximately eight inches apart, so you may need to thin them.

When they are planted in their native growing zone, you generally do not need to water them at all during the spring months. They will thrive with sporadic natural rainfall. The seeds germinate when the outdoor temperature is between 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

They will go dormant when the hot summer season arrives, so you should not worry about trying to water them if they appear to struggle during the hot, dry months of the year. However, when fall arrives and the temperature drops, you may notice that they become active and bloom once again before the winter chill sets in.

The California poppy should not receive extra fertilizer. While the fertilizer will not kill the plant, it may result in the overgrowth of the foliage. Often, excessive foliage causes fewer flowers to bloom.


Warnings for California Poppies

Before planting the California poppy in your yard or on your patio, be aware that it is poisonous to pets and humans alike. In addition, the California poppy is prone to developing fungal diseases when it receives too much water. Mold and mildew can rot the roots of the California poppy, and this can extend to the stems as well. If your California poppy plants show signs of a fungal disease, you can apply an anti-fungal product to them to restore their health.

If you have been searching for an easy way to introduce more color into your space, the California poppy may be the perfect solution. Before you finalize your decision, carefully analyze the environmental conditions in your space to ensure that they are suitable for the California poppy. You can then choose the preferred variety, and wait for your seeds to sprout.