Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis spp.) are stunning alpine plants with silky blooms in an array of rich colors. Many gardeners consider them the most beautiful flowers in the world. While these poppies have a reputation for being fussy, with little extra care and the right growing conditions, you can definitely grow these dazzling plants successfully in the garden. Himalayan poppies thrive in cool, moist climates. Although they tolerate winter cold, they aren’t well suited for hot, dry summers above 80 F. (27 C.).
Choosing Himalayan Poppies
The Meconopsis group consists of about 45 species and they’re all so stunning that it can be difficult to choose just one. That said, plant-world-seeds.com offers a great selection of Himalayan poppy seeds for the garden, but here are 5 favorites that are hard to beat:
- Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’ is the best of the Himalayan blue poppies, boasting large, sky blue flowers.
- Meconopsis horridula, or Prickly Blue poppy, is a semi-alpine poppy that grows wild on rocky slopes and high meadows.
- Meconopsis baileyi is a sky blue poppy with yellow stamens. This beautiful plant is the most familiar of the Himalayan blue poppies.
- Meconopsis ‘Hensol Violet’ is a violet form of Meconopsis baileyi. The satiny, shimmering blooms are bright purple with a touch of red.
- Meconopsis nepaulensis, also known as Nepal poppy, this Himalayan poppy offers up cherry red flowers with bright yellow stamens.
Planting Meconopsis Seeds
If sowing your Himalayan poppies directly in the garden, plant seeds in late winter. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, then water as needed to keep the soil moist.
When starting them indoors, start the seeds in early spring. Be sure containers are sterilized by scrubbing them with bleach and warm water. Fill a seed tray with a mixture of soil-based potting mix and coarse sand. Moisten the potting mix lightly until it is moist but not soggy.
Sprinkle seeds thinly on the surface of the potting mix, then cover them with a thin layer of vermiculite. Place the tray in a cool room where the temperature remains about 59 F. (15 C.). The seeds don’t require bottom heat. Keep the trays under grow lights for 12 hours every day. Spritz the potting mix with a fine mist as needed to keep it lightly moist.
Watch for seeds to germinate in about three or four weeks. Transplant the seedlings to individual pots filled when they have a pair of true leaves. Handle the seedlings by the leaves to avoid harming the fragile stems. Move the plants outdoors when the seedlings are large enough to handle.
Soil preparation is critical if you hope to grow Himalayan poppies successfully, whether you plant seeds directly in the garden or start them indoors. The soil must be extremely well drained or the plants are likely to rot, especially during damp winters. Meconopsis poppies perform best in moist, acidic soil with a pH of 5.2 to 6.2. Dig in a generous amount of fine bark mulch and well-rotted manure or compost into the top 18 inches (46 cm.) of soil before planting. Additionally, work in a balanced, dry fertilizer.
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