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Papaver orientale
Papaver orientale

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

Papaver somniferum

Opium Poppy, Breadseed Poppy


Poppies provide gay spring and summer color for borders, containers, and bouquets. Give ordinary, well-drained soil, and feed lightly until established. Perennial species tend to be short-lived. When using poppies as cut flowers, sear cut stem ends in a flame before placing them in water.

Papaver somniferum

Believed to have originated in southeastern Europe and western Asia. Grows to 4 ft. tall. Hairless gray-green leaves have jagged edges. Late spring flowers are 4–5 in. across, in white, pink, red, purple, deep plum, and are sometimes single, usually double; some of the double forms have fringed petals. Blooms are followed by large seed capsules used in dried arrangements. Ripe pods include large quantities of the poppy seed used in baking. Shake pods over a tray to collect the seeds. Opium is derived from the sap of the green capsules; derivatives include morphine, codeine, and heroin. American federal law permits the sale, possession, and use of opium poppy seed, but it is illegal—a felony, in fact—to grow opium poppy plants. In spite of this, they are commonly sold at nurseries as “breadseed poppies.”

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