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Moving with the breeze, perennial poppy flowers with crinkly, silky petals on graceful stalks four feet tall are a focal point in any garden. The blooming period, though brief, is an important garden event, for each flower measures four inches across. Oriental poppies come in standard orange as well as scarlet, watermelon-pink, pale pink, and white. This perennial's foliage stays low and is covered with fine hairs. It disappears for part of the summer and returns in fall and spring.

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How to grow: Poppies are undemanding, wanting only good, well-drained soil in full sun. Drainage is especially important in the winter, for roots will rot if they stay wet. Place the crown three inches below the soil surface and mulch plants, especially during the first winter, to prevent heaving.

Propagation: By division in the fall or from seed.

Uses: Use poppies in beds or borders in combination with other perennials or by themselves.

Related species: Papaver nudicaule, the Iceland poppy, is shorter-lived and smaller than oriental poppies, with a color range including cream, oranges, and yellows. Champagne Bubbles is a good cultivar. It grows in winter and spring in the South.

Scientific name: Papaver orientale


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