Top 5 Annuals for the West


California Poppy

The "Golden Poppy" is the state flower of California.
The "Golden Poppy" is the state flower of California.

­Their yellowy-orange color and strong roots make this young poppy a solid choice for the home owner with a gravelly garden. New varieties are currently being developed but for now poppies are not yet available in a variety of colors.

It's been more than 100 years since the "Golden Poppy" took the title of "State Flower" for California, and because of its beauty and ability to withstand the sometimes harsh heat of the state, it's no surprise that this plant is one of the top 5 annuals for the West. What c­an be surprising, however, is that this plant, which is considered an annual, can also pop up again next year, uninvited and completely unexpected. That makes it a perennial too. But if you do want to see these flowers pop up again next year, be sure to save a few seed pods from this year's plants and spread them over the land you'd like to set aglow for next year. This plant will grow with little care, and can handle the worst of terrain [source: Christman].

The California Poppy has earned the plant the nickname of "flame flower.­" If you truly want to set your yard ablaze with some instant, easy color, this plant is hard to beat [source: California State Library]. Blossoms are 2-3" (5-6 cm) in diameter, and usually grow about a foot high (about 1/3 m), although hybrid species (which don't necessarily like hot weather) can grow to be nearly as tall as an average-sized person.

When choosing a place for your poppies, it's best to remember that this flower came from sandy rocky areas like the Mojave Desert and the embankments of California dunes, so it's best to leave those shady soft spots for other plants who can't handle extremes.