Do you want to work in your garden but the weather is not cooperating just yet? Well, here’s something you can do that is easy and quick and will have big reward in early summer. Plant some poppy seeds! This is literally one of the ‘easiest things ever’ to do in your garden. I am going with these amazing looking Hungarian Blue Bread Poppies. I haven’t tried this variety before but it promises to have beautiful blue-purple 3-4″ blooms, followed by large seed pods filled with tasty culinary seeds for delicious baked goods. Hmm…maybe some homemade lemon poppy-seed bread in my future…
There are many types of poppies some perennial, some annual. The bread poppies (papaver somniferum) are an annual but are considered a hardy, re-seeder. They should be direct-sowed outside in early spring or late fall. The description hardy, re-seeder means you can plant them once and should have some return each year although they are technically annuals. Bread poppies return because the blooms are followed by large seed capsules/pods and if you leave them in your garden for the rest of the season the pods will continue to mature and inside will be many tiny poppy seeds. Seeds from the pods will fall here and there and lie dormant until the following spring where they will start all over again.
If you want more poppies in your garden or want them to grow in a certain area, cut the ripe pods from the stems and use them like a salt shaker, simply shake the seeds in the areas you want them to grow. If interested in using the seeds for culinary purposes, cut all the ripe pods and shake the seeds over a tray to collect them.
Top view of seed pod
Don’t let the description “hardy, re-seeder” scare you into thinking they may be invasive. Another great quality of bread poppies is the root system is not large and you can easily pull them if they are growing in an area you don’t want them. Some people thin out all but the largest, strongest volunteers as the smaller, weaker ones do not produce the large blooms. Speaking of scaring someone, I suppose I should mention papaver somniferum is also known as Opium poppy and it is supposedly against the law to sell or possess Opium poppy-seed. However, many nurseries and seed companies sell bread poppy varieties and seeds. So if you fall in love with bread poppies and grow them profusely in your garden, keep them somewhat in check. Otherwise you may get unwanted attention from nosy passersby!
THE BIG EASY
To plant bread poppy seeds simply loosen the top 1/4 inch of soil a bit with a hand rake or hand spade. Just fluff it up a bit. Now take the tiny seeds and scatter them loosely in your area. If you like, take your hand and lightly pat the soil where you have spread the seed. (You don’t have to do this, but I do.) This is just to make sure seeds have contact with the soil. Caution: Do not cover the seeds with soil. They need light to germinate. That’s it you’re done! So, if its cold in your area bundle up, if it’s raining wait for a break – then got out for 10 minutes and do something easy with big reward.
Extras: Bread poppies come in many colors ranging from white, pink, red, purple, deep plum and blueish-purple. They are usually single, but there are some doubles and some forms have fringed petals. Most all have pretty blue-green foliage and pods can be decorative in dried floral arrangements. They are very tiny when first emerging so look for them with keen eyes.
Local source for Hungarian Blue Bread Poppy - Boise Co-op