Gardeners’ World: Monty Don gives advice on oriental poppies

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Poppies grow and bloom in the spring and summer periods. They grow in cooler climates and produce colourful blooms with hues of red, orange, yellow and white. Poppies can grow to be four feet tall in height while dwarf varieties reach between two and three feet tall.

Poppies can be annuals, biennials or herbaceous plants.

There are many different types including oriental poppies, field poppies, Welsh poppies and Himalayan poppies.

These flowers are renowned for their red summer flowers.

The blooming season for these flowers may be fleeting but when they appear in May and June they are wonderfully eye-catching.

Poppies thrive in moist but well-drained soil located in full sun.

Field poppies and opium will tolerate drier and poorer soils compared to oriental poppies.

Himalayan poppies grow best in moist and slightly acidic soils located in partial shade.

The larger, perennial oriental poppies are perfect for growing in a border, ideally at the front or middle.

These poppies will flower in May and June and once the flowering season has concluded the foliage will die back.

Poppy foliage will have a second lease of life in August.

You should plant them alongside low-growing perennials such as hardy geraniums which will fill a gap in July once the foliage dies back.

Purple poppies also grow best in light shade as full sun can deplete their vibrant colour.

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When to cut back poppies

Annual poppies are extremely easy to care for and there is no need for you to stake or deadhead them.

Once the flowers have faded and seeds have been released, you should pull up the parent plant and place them in your compost heap.

It is a good idea to shake the plants over your growing area before removing them as poppy seeds can be difficult to shift.

Oriental poppies may need supports to keep them upright before flower stems appear.

A poppy flower typically lasts for around 10 days, but many plants will produce a second crop of flowers if they are cut back.

You should cut back your plants to ground level in the autumn season and mulch with compost, leaf mild and bark chippings in autumn and spring.

Cutting poppies back to ground level will stimulate growth of fresh new foliage and perhaps even new blooms.

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