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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - April 26, 2008

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs, Wildflowers
Title: Poppies on Pflugerville, TX lake
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live on the new Pflugerville Lake. We are trying to get wildflower seed to plant around the lake in the mitigation areas. Will Poppies grow here?

ANSWER:

Since Pflugerville is in Travis County, as is the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are going to assume you are dealing with the same soil, moisture, temperature issues that we do at the Center. When we searched our Native Plant Database on "poppy" we got a whole bunch of possibilities, some of which are members of the actual Papaveraceae family, and quite a few that are not. The "true" poppy seems to prefer cooler climates than we can provide. Below is a list of those that are native to North America, you can follow the plant links and read the descriptions, see what you think:

PAPAVERACEAE

Arctomecon californica (California bearpoppy) - perennial, native to Arizona, Nevada, Utah

Arctomecon humilis (common bearpoppy) - perennial, native to Utah

Papaver californicum (western poppy) - annual, native to California

Papaver nudicaule (Icelandic poppy) - perennial, native to Alaska, Utah

Papaver radicatum (rooted poppy) - perennial, also called Alpine Poppy

Eschscholzia californica (California poppy) - annual, native to Texas (among other states)

Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana (California poppy) - annual, native to Texas (among others)

Argemone aurantiaca (Texas pricklypoppy) - beautiful in the field, but the word "prickly" is well chosen

One other plant, a member of the Creosote-Bush family is an annual, Kallstroemia grandiflora (Arizona poppy) that does look like a poppy. It is native to Texas, also.

So, in answer to your question, will poppies grow in Pflugerville? We actually don't know that they will or won't, but we're thinking anything with "Iceland" or "Alpine" in the name probably won't, and the ones that are native only to California or the northern mountain states are not good candidates, either.

So, might we offer an alternative to your plans for the mitigation area around the lake? Check out this article on Meadow Gardening from our How-To Articles. You really can't start planting seeds until Fall, anyway, but you could start your planning now, and you could always include some poppy seeds in there, just to see if they'll grow. Then, if you're interested, go to the website for Native American Seed for information, lists of seeds available, catalogs, etc. Remember, it's always safer to stick to grasses and flowers that are native to the area. If you're interested in a specific plant, go to our Native Plant Database and read the information on the plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


California bear-poppy
Arctomecon californica

Common bear-poppy
Arctomecon humilis

Fire poppy
Papaver californicum

Icelandic poppy
Papaver nudicaule

Rooted poppy
Papaver radicatum

California poppy
Eschscholzia californica

Mexican gold poppy
Eschscholzia californica ssp. mexicana

Arizona poppy
Kallstroemia grandiflora

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