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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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Wednesday - July 10, 2013

From: Berkeley, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Care of poppy plants
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

I bought a tiny poppy grow kit at Target for 99 cents. Amazingly, they have grown into numerous large and very healthy plants, though they don't all appear to be the same species. Some have grown to 3' tall and are bigger than I planned for my small garden. Can I trim them while they are still blooming without causing damage? If so, how? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Consider yourself very lucky.  My wife bought a $4.95 poppy seed packet from a reputable seed company, and nothing ever came up.

You might have red Flanders poppies from Europe or some other exotic kind.  Opium poppy???  Our expertise does not go beyond plants native to the United States. If the blooms are orange, it will probably be Eschscholzia californica (California poppy), the state flower of California.  This plant is a native of California and is usually treated as an annual plant, grown each year from seed.  But it does not often grow as high as 3'.  Once it finishes blooming, that's usually it for the year.  I doubt that pruning any poppy plant would be successful, except perhaps for clipping off the spent flowers.  With a lot of loving care you might nurse it through until next year, but your best bet would be to buy another $.99 seed packet and start all over. 

 

From the Image Gallery


California poppy
Eschscholzia californica

California poppy
Eschscholzia californica

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