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How to manage showy annual poppies in your wildflower garden

  • How to manage showy annual poppies in your wildflower garden
  • How to manage showy annual poppies in your wildflower garden
  • How to manage showy annual poppies in your wildflower garden

Well, we've enjoyed them tremendously, but now the flowers are over, and the foliage is starting to turn brown and drab - particularly on my favourites, the large Papaver somniferum, or Opium Poppy. I love the bluey-green leaves, the flowers are - of course - wonderful, and the pepper-pot seed pods are fascinating, but now they are starting to look a mess, so it's time to remove them.

Before you rip them all out, though, think about saving seed for next year: it's simple, it's free, and it means you can sow the seed elsewhere in the garden, or can give it away to friends.

To save the seed, cut the stems quite low down, and tie them together in bunches. Slip an old A4 paper envelope over the seed heads, and tie it around the stems. Then hang the whole contraption, upside down, somewhere warm such as a shed or a garage, or a sunny porch. As the seed pods dry and ripen, the seeds will fall out and will be caught in the envelope.

Make sure that you cut the stems before the seed pods have already opened, otherwise you won't get any seed to save: in the two close-up pictures, you can see that one is still completely sealed, whereas the other has opened up: just underneath the “lid” you can see small openings, and if you turn such a seed pod upside down, the tiny black seeds will come shooting out.

Don't forget to write on the envelope the date and what colour the poppies were, then once they are all dried out, you can sow some seed now, and you can save the rest to sow early next year.


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