The Shirley poppy is an annual flower known for glowing in the sunlight, with large, silky blooms atop straight stems; for an overall package that is desirable in the garden.
Description: Plants start as basal rosettes and bloom in spring. They grow one to three feet in height, with flowers two to four inches. Plants hate high heat.
How to grow: Protect from rabbits and slugs. Thin to 12 inches apart. Pinch once for bushiness. Deadhead or harvest to prolong flowering. Allow seeds to ripen and self-sow.
Propagation: Poppies are hard to transplant. Plant seeds outdoors four weeks before the danger of frost ends, in well-drained, rich beds in full sun. Or start seeds indoors in individual pots six weeks earlier. Seeds take eight days to germinate at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, longer in cooler temperatures. In cool climates, make successive sowings.
Uses: Grow in borders, beds, and meadows. For bouquets, cut in early morning. Singe the stem base with a flame to seal it before putting it in water.
Related species: Hybrids were developed from common European corn poppies, the famous flowers of Flanders Fields. Lady Bird, with red petals and black basal blotches, is this type.
Related varieties: Angels Choir has three-inch double flowers in a range of colors and bicolors; Cedric Morris comes in soft pastel shades.
Scientific name: Papaver rhoeas