Far Out Flora – Planting Poppies

Poppy season is just around the corner and there’s still plenty of time to get them going in your garden. Maybe we’re still on a sentimental holiday high, but we’re skipping over the ton of varieties that can be had in the trade, and going traditional. Say hello to good old Eschscholzia californica, aka the California Poppy.

Unlike a lot of poppies, Eschscholzia californica doesn’t like to be transplanted and it’s smartest to start yours from seed. The best time to plant for February blooms was last fall. But hey — no worries. You can sow seeds for the next couple of weeks and still enjoy the party. Their flowers just won’t start popping until late spring, and a lot of times they’ll hang on throughout the summer.

California poppies - Far Out Flora

Poppy Pros: Require little maintenance, provide great color in your garden and they’re drought-tolerant survivors here along Ocean Beach. We typically let the fog water them over summer, but have heard that they look lusher if you give them an occasional summer spray with the hose.

Poppy Cons: Well, these guys like to reseed, so once you have them you may have them for a long, long time. How to counteract the reseeding? Pull off those seed heads before they start dropping. By the way, you can dry and store those seeds to plan for the next season.

Field of California poppies - Far Out Flora

California poppies prefer well-draining, unamended soil. We suspect that most of you have a sandy soil sitting in your backyard, so sow away and skip the fertilizer. These guys grow a deep taproot that allows them to do well without additional water over the summer. But it also means that they don’t perform well in containers. Still want to grow in your window box? Hey, we’re not against experimenting, we’re just saying.

California poppies in a field of wildflowers - Far Out Flora

How to plant. Get yourself some seed. Renee’s Garden Seeds is south of here down in Felton, and you can always find their seed packets around our ’hood at places such as Sloat Garden Center. Next, find yourself a sunny part of your garden needing a little orange flair. Sow seeds a quarter-inch deep. This means spread your seeds about three inches apart on the soil surface, then rough up the dirt a little with your hand. Remember that you’re planting just below the surface, you’re not trying to dig them a grave. Moist seeds germinate in about seven to 21 days. After they start popping up, thin out as desired, and then watch them grow.

We’re heading back to gardening. Chat with you in two weeks. Enjoy those CA Poppies! Matti and Megan – Far Out Flora

We (Matti and Megan) live in San Francisco near Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park. Plants are awesome. We like to do interesting things with them. Succulents, bromeliads, carnivores and other unusual plants are our favorites. Both of us graduated from UW-Madison with art degrees. Matti works for an art gallery and Megan works for a home staging company. We’re originally from the great state of Wisconsin. Before moving to San Francisco we lived in Madison off of Willy Street Our dog Max is too smart for his own good. He makes us check out beaches all over the coast.

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