Iceland Poppies make excellent cut flowers. To increase their vase-life, immerse the bottoms of the stems in about 2.5cm of boiled water and put the flowers in a vase with cold water.
Numerous gardeners have been inspired by Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule). They are beautiful to look at, especially when the sunlight shines through their translucent, crepe-like yellow, orange, pink, red and white petals. However, these elegant annuals have also proven their ability to transform drab winter gardens into show-stopping spring displays. June is the perfect time to plant Iceland Poppy seedlings to ensure that they weave their magic in your garden this spring.
Start off with healthy seedlings bought from a reputable garden centre. Before you transplant them, ensure that the soil in the seedling tray is damp enough so that the earth clings to the seedlings when removed. Place each seedling, retaining as much soil as you can, in a hole - about 15cm apart from the next one. Remember to plant seedlings in well-composted soil to the depth that they are in the seedling tray. They need special care after transplanting and frequent watering until they are established.
Iceland poppies prefer full sun and require fertile soil, good drainage, protection from strong winds and regular watering. If you find that your Iceland Poppies do not grow well in one area, don't give up - just try to plant them somewhere else instead. They usually start flowering within 90 days after transplanting and continue to do so for about 16 to 20 weeks.
To boost flower development and the flowering period, apply small amounts of fertiliser and liquid manure to the soil when the buds are forming. Poppies love to be picked for the vase - the more you pick them the more they flower. If you don't pick the blooms it's essential that you deadhead spent flowers to curb seed production.
The poppy effect
Reaching up to 30cm, Iceland Poppies complement other spring favourites like Pansies, Alyssum and Violas. They work well when grown as groups or ribbons of plants in mid-border and contrasted with the plain green foliage of other shrubs and plants. Iceland Poppies are available in single colours, as well as pastel shades with white edges.
Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association
Text by Natanja van der Westhuizen