Do poppies need full sun? Or do they prefer a little shade? Let’s have a look and find out, shall we?
Do Poppies Need Full Sun?
Field poppies or Flanders poppies thrive in full sun but can also do just fine in partial shade.
Oriental poppies, which are probably the most popular perennial poppy grown in the UK, love full sun but again can tolerate a bit of shade. As long as they are getting direct sunlight for 4-6 hours a day they will thrive.
Opium poppies, also commonly known as bread seed poppies, can grow in both full sun and partial shade, so they definitely do not need full sun.
Himalayan poppies are one of the few poppies that do not like full sun, they need partial shade in order to perform their best.
California poppies, as you could probably guess from the name, love full sun. They thrive in sunny, hot, dry spots which is no wonder as a native of the southern USA and Mexico.
Different types of poppies
There are so many different types of poppies, each with its own growing characteristics and appearance that they might as well be different plants.
what applies to one poppy may not apply to others, so here is a quick breakdown of the different poppies there are.
Field Poppies (Papaver Rhoeas)
This is the remembrance poppy. A wild growing annual poppy with a small red flower with a black centre.
These are really easy to grow and are found in many wildflower mixes. You can just scatter them on the soil and let them grow, they need very little care or attention.
Oriental Poppies (Papaver orientale)
These are probably the most common garden poppy. They are perennial flowers and are much larger than field poppies.
They provide large flowers in a range of colours, although the flowers are only fleeting they are treasured by gardeners up and down the country.
Opium Poppies (Papaver somniferum)
Also known as bread seed poppies these are the poppies used for opioid production. The easiest way to spot an opium poppy by eye is the large pale green leaves. They have an almost rubbery appearance.
Opium poppies are completely legal to grow in the UK as long as it is not at scale, for obvious reasons.
The name opium poppy is actually a bit misleading as many modern opium poppies produce very little opium.
Himalayan Poppies (Meconopsis betonicifolia)
The bright blue poppy is known as being difficult to grow. It is a short-lived perennial that is particularly fussy about the soil it grows in.
It likes slightly acidic soil that is well draining but very fertile and it also doesn’t like being in full sun.
Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule)
These are perennial poppies but are usually grown as an annual in the UK. Despite being named the Iceland poppy they are actually a North American or east Asian species.
California Poppies (Eschscholzia californica)
While actually a biennial these are grown as annuals in the UK. They are known for creating beautiful sprawling displays of colour, usually orange but also available in peaches and pinks.
Even though you may think I have listed a lot of poppies above this list is nowhere near exhaustive and there are many more types of poppy. As you can see the variety is almost endless!