Use : Outdoors
Evergreen/Deciduous : Annual
Plant Type : Annual
Flower Colour : White and shades of yellow, orange, pink or red
Foliage Colour : Green
Best Season : Winter to Spring
Light : Sun
Hardiness : Hardy
Height (m) : up to 0.30
Spread (m) : up to 0.15

Papaver nudicaule – Iceland Poppy

Notes : The papaver nudicaule, common name Iceland Poppy is one of a genus of 70 species. Perennial, usually grown as a winter and spring flowering annual. Iceland Poppies are one of the most popular bedding plants for late Winter and Spring.

They make a brilliant show in the garden with their shining petals, emerging from plump, furry buds. The single, graceful flowers are borne, in great profusion, on the ends of long stems in white and all shades of red, orange, yellow and pink. This colourful show will continue until the ground is wanted for other plantings – particularly if cut frequently for the vase and no seed heads are allowed to form.

The foliage  of the papaver nudicaule is fern-like and hairy. They prefer full sun, a rich soil, perfect drainage and protection from strong winds. Water them regularly, especially in the Summer-rainfall regions. Cut off the spent flower heads to encourage more buds. Sow seed in mid summer. Germination is from seven days.

Plant seedlings 15 centimetres apart in Autumn, when the soil has cooled down. It is an easy task, but it is important that the beds are prepared in advance. Dig the area over to the full depth of a fork and then spread a 5 centimetre layer of compost over and work into the ground.

Fertilisers are not essential for the papaver nudicaule but it is a good idea to use a fine sprinkling of superphosphate – about 350 grams to 10 square metres. This encourages root growth and an abundance of flowers. If you use kraal manure in your beds ensure that it is well rotted and prepare them well in advance.

Plant iceland poppy seedlings in the cool of the day. Seedling trays should be watered before planting, to help the soil stick to the roots. Only remove as many seedlings as you can use soon, to avoid drying out. Water the seedlings well the next morning. Plant in groups in a border or as an edging to a path. They harmonise well with Spring flowering bulbs or Pansies and Alyssum. A good contrast can also be created with the plain green foliage of nearby shrubs and perennials. Iceland Poppies can be grown in most parts of the country, but are not suited to very dry areas.