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How to collect poppy seeds and what to do with poppies after flowering

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Poppies are one of my favourite plants, both the perennial oriental poppies and the Papaver somniferum varieties which are annuals. I think poppies are stunning plants, but not only that, they are so easy to grow and not too picky either about where they will grow either.

Papaver somniferum 'pink fizz'
My Papaver somniferum ‘Pink Fizz’ that I have grown from seed

One of my personal favourites is the Papaver somniferum ‘Pink Fizz’ with its grey/green lobed leaves and its absolutely stunning large, double, fringed pink and white flowers. As you can see from the photograph above, it really is a striking Poppy and one that got plenty of admiration from visitors in our garden. In this guide, we have collected seeds from this Poppy, but the process is the same for all poppies.

When do you collect the poppy seeds?

Papaver somniferum poppies with some seed pods ready to collect seeds from
Poppy plants with several seed heads that are ready to take seeds from, in my garden

Most poppies flower in the Summer months, with the exception of some of the smaller field varieties which flower a little later, so you can usually collect the seeds from around September time.

Brown seed pods ready to collect seeds
Close up of poppy seed pods which have turned brown and are ready to have their seeds collected from

You will know when the seed pods are ready because they start to have a papery exterior and they turn light brown in colour from grey/green. It really is amazing how nature works and you can even hear the seeds shake inside the pods so you know they are ready to remove.

Close up a poppy seed pod with little windows open which is a sign that they are ready to disperse seeds
Close up of natures windows where the seeds will naturally disperse from as the wind blows them from side to side

If you look carefully there are small windows at the top of the pod which will open when they are ready. At this point you know they are definitely ready to collect the seeds from and it couldn’t be simpler.

How to collect poppy seeds

Collecting poppy seeds by tipping seed pods upside down do the seeds all fall out
The number of seeds in one hand that I was able to collect from one single seed pod!

Once the poppy seed heads are ready to collect, simply snip the seed head off and turn the seed pods upside down over a bag or container and the seeds will simply fall out. One single pod will literally hold hundreds of seeds!

If not all the seed pods are ready at the same time you may want to collect the seeds over a couple of weeks so you only remove seed pods that are ready.

Read next: How to grow poppies in pots

Read next: How to grow and care for poppies

How to store poppy seeds

Once you have collected all the poppy seeds it is important to store them in a paper bag. The reason for this is that any moisture in the seeds or seed pods would be trapped if you use polythene bags and can lead to fungus or mould.

When to sow poppy seeds?

Poppy seeds, once collected, can be sown in the late Summer and grown in a cold greenhouse before planting them out in the Spring. If you want to sow them directly into the garden beds or pots you would do this in Spring.

What to do with poppies after flowering?

What you do with poppies depends on what type you have. For oriental perennial poppies, you simply cut them back to ground level after flowering. Sometimes they can even flower again if you do this early enough. These will of course grow again the following Spring.

Papaver somniferum 'pink fizz' growing in my raised bed
My Papaver somniferum ‘Pink Fizz’ growing in my raised bed, these were sown directly into our raised bed in the Spring

If you have Papaver somniferum which are annual poppies, you simply cut them right back to the ground after collecting the seeds or after you have let them self seed. If you let them self-seed they will produce an excellent show every year but can get a little out of hand which is why I prefer to collect the seeds so I can control where they grow and so they don’t seed all over my garden which they would if I let them self seed.

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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