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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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.