Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oriental Poppies

Bolero Oriental Poppy in Front Border

Bolero Oriental Poppy

Garden Glory Oriental Poppy With Alliums

Closeup of Garden Glory Oriental Poppy

Manhattan Oriental Poppy Closeup

Garden Glory Oriental Poppy
     Oriental poppies, while not exactly rare or unusual, are one of my favorite plants. Ever since I took up photography, I have become more and more enamored of them. As these pictures illustrate, there are many more cultivars of this plant than one usually sees in garden centers. I have certainly not grown all the available ones, but of those I have grown, the ones pictured above are my favorites.  Bolero, the one in the first and second photos, is one I just got last year and this is the first year it bloomed. I like it for its color and for its habit and form. It seems to be less blousy than some and the flower seems simpler and more like a wild poppy. The plant itself is neater than many oriental poppy plants.
     Garden Glory is the largest and most spectacular oriental poppy flower I have grown. Because of this, however, the flowers tend to flop around a bit and they do not die away gracefully. It is worth it to grow in my opinion simply for the beauty of the flower.
     Manhattan is another one, like Bolero, which has relatively neat foliage and flower heads that do not flop.  I also particularly like the color which is sort of a dusty plum.
     One oriental poppy that I used to grow but do not any more is Patty's Plum. This one has received much attention in recent years and is often seen in nurseries, but in my opinion it is not a good plant. The flower only looks good for about a day, and then it is really ugly for the rest of its existence.  Its popularity is probably due to some great photographs of the flower (taken on the one day it looked good) that were used to market it.
     Oriental poppies have a somewhat awkward growth habit in that the foliage dies away after they bloom, leaving a large hole in the garden.  The trick is to plant them beside other plants which don't fill out until later in the year. One plant which meets this criterion is Melianthus major. I will be having a post on this plant in the future, but, suffice it to say that in our climate melianthus is best cut to the ground every year and under this treatment it does not fully expand until after the oriental poppies go down. This is also a good combination because melianthus and oriental poppies like the same conditions--sun and well drained soil. 
     Oriental poppies are drought tolerant and deer resistant. I grow them in my front border where they get no water and they have done quite well. If you want mass quantities of them, they are easily propagated by root cuttings. I will have a post in the future about how to do this.
     Oriental poppies are found in most retail nurseries, but they do not always have the most desirable cultivars. For a mouthwatering view of some of the available ones, look at the Darwin Plants listing of oriental poppies,  http://www.darwinplants.com/site/genus.asp?GenusId=Papaver . Darwin Plants is a company which supplies plants to nursery wholesalers and retailers, so their plants will appear in mailorder lists and in retail nurseries. If you see one there you like, you can always ask your local nursery to try and obtain it for you.

No comments:

Post a Comment