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Eschscholzia californica
Eschscholzia californica

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Zones A1-A3, 1-45, H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Eschscholzia californica

California Poppy
Annuals, Perennials, Flowers


Poppy relatives with upward-facing, four-petaled yellow or orange blooms above finely cut foliage. Individual plants grow to about 1 1/2 ft. wide. Of the several species native to western North America and Mexico, E. californica is the most outstanding and the most widely used. All are drought-tolerant, but giving them summer water will extend their flowering season.

Eschscholzia californica (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Eschscholzia californica (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Eschscholzia californica

Perennial in Zones 1–24, H1; often grown as an annual in all zones. Native to California and Oregon, this is the state flower of California. Free-branching from base, with slender, 8–24-in.-long stems and blue-green, finely divided leaves. Single, satiny-petaled flowers are about 2 in. wide; color varies from pale yellow to deep orange. Flowers close at night and on overcast days. In mild climates, it blooms from spring to summer and reseeds freely. Naturalized not just in California but also in parts of Hawaii. In cold-winter areas, generally used as a summer annual.

California poppy is not the best choice for important beds viewed close up—unless you trim off dead flowers regularly, plants go to seed and all parts turn straw color. It can’t be surpassed, however, for naturalizing on sunny hillsides, along drives, or in dry fields, vacant lots, parking strips, or country gardens.

Sow seeds where plants are to grow; seedlings don’t transplant well. Sow in fall in mild-winter areas, in spring in colder regions. Broadcast on cultivated, well-drained soil; if rain is absent, water to keep the ground moist until seeds germinate. For large-scale sowing, use 3–4 lb. of seeds per acre. Birds are attracted to the seeds.

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