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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

Iceland Poppies

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

poppy, rose, ranunculus
A scarlet Iceland poppy, with ranunculus and 'Just Joey' rose

I used to think of Iceland poppies as uninteresting, because here in Northern California they’re common winter bedding plants. They’re always the brilliant yellow and eye-popping orange varieties, and although they’re a welcome sight in winter, I was never tempted to include them in my own garden.

But when we started Tiny Footprint Flowers, I wanted poppies for my earliest bouquets, so I shopped for seed and tried growing them. I quickly found out two things. One, they come in pastel colors, not just screaming orange and yellow. Two, they’re HARD to grow from seed! And that second thing made me more interested, because I love a challenge.

poppies and tulips
Iceland poppies, also tiny 'Hawera' narcissus, white anemone and 'Blue Diamond' tulips

My first year of growing Iceland poppies from seed was not a great success. Yes, I did get a few plants and yes, they did flower. But the flowers still tended to be bright orange, and the seedlings were painfully slow to get established. I had to supplement with plants from a Half Moon Bay nursery, and those plants bloomed quickly. In the future I may even decide that it’s more cost effective to buy plants since they were under two bucks each and gave me many flowers. The downside is that I won’t know what colors I’ll get.

For more color choices, I’ll need to try other seed mixes, such as Pastel Meadows or Champagne Bubbles White from Floret. But I bet I’ll still get a mix of colors, because I’ve observed that the same plant can give both orange and white flowers. I need to find out more about that! If anyone out there can tell me more about colors in Iceland poppies (or more correctly, Papaver nudicaule), I’d love to hear from you.

Poppy bud
Pick poppies at this stage or even earlier, when you first see color but the bud hasn't opened.

flower bouquet
Coral Iceland poppies with purple larkspur, red and white snapdragons.

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