Poppies provide a short but stunning display in late May or early June. But what do you do with poppies once they have finished flowering? Let’s have a look!
What you do with your poppies once they have finished flowering mainly depends on whether they are perennial poppies or annual poppies.
Perennial poppies, or as they are also known, oriental poppies can be cut right back to the base once they have finished flowering.
You don’t need to be too precious here and can really get stuck in.
New leaves will appear and then sometimes, but not always, you will get a second load of flowers around September time.
With annual poppies, you want to scatter the seeds, ready to grow again next year, and then let the plant die back naturally or remove them, depending on your style of gardening. You can also harvest the seeds and plant them yourself if you want to control exactly where the plants grow.
Wait until the seed pods go brown and hard and almost crispy, you will be able to hear the seeds rattling around inside the pod once they are ready.
Small holes will begin to appear in the top of the pod, this is a sure-fire way of knowing that the seeds are ready. Once these appear you are good to go.
Simply tip the seed pods upside down and give them a good shake and the seeds will come tumbling out of these holes.
Once an annual poppy has flowered it won’t flower again so you are safe to remove them completely. Make sure you scatter the seeds first so they will grow again next year.
Collecting the seeds
Rather than letting the seed’s self sow you can collect them yourself and grow them on manually. this will allow you to control where the plants grow and also how many grow.
By growing them by hand yourself you can also start them a little earlier under cover which usually leads to a bigger a better display come summer.
The obvious drawback is that this is a lot more labour intensive. if you let the poppies self sow you will get a wonderful display every year with zero work.
If you are collecting poppy seeds then simply shake them into a paper envelope and keep in a dark dry spot.
Should You Deadhead Poppies
With oriental poppies, yes you should deadhead them. Once the large flowers start to go they look really unattractive which is one reason to deadhead them.
The main reason though is that if you regularly deadhead them you do increase your chances of getting a second bloom out of your poppies in autumn.
With annual poppies there is no reason to deadhead them, just simply let them set seed and dig them up and chuck them on the compost heap.
Oriental poppies don’t tend to grow true to seed, so if yours are starting to look a little tired and you think it might t be time to replace them then you will want to take cuttings.
You want to do this in Autumn time ideally. Dig up a plant and cut off a section of root around 5mm wide, roughly a pencil’s width.
You then want to cut this root down into small sections, each one about 5cm long. Push these into some compost in a pot and cover with grit and leave them to grow like this.
They will be in these pots for a while and will be very delicate at this stage so keep them in a greenhouse or cold frame.
You can pot them on into individual pots once true plants have begun to appear above the surface.