Growing Guide
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Shirley Poppy

Annual Flower

Also known as Flanders Poppy, Corn Poppy, Field Poppy
Papaver rhoeas
Papaveraceae Family

This annual has fernlike foliage and ruffled, papery flowers in many colors, including red, orange, yellow, violet, white and pink. Prefers cool weather and doesn't like heat and humidity. Immortalized in the WWI poem, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow ... ."

Site Characteristics
  • full sun

Soil conditions:

  • tolerates droughty soil
  • requires well-drained soil
Prefers rich, well-drained soil.

Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 2 to 3 feet

Spread: 0.75 to 1.25 feet

Bloom time:

  • late spring
  • early summer

Flower color:

  • red
  • orange
  • yellow
  • violet
  • white
  • pink

Flowers are saucer-like, about 3 in diameter, single or double, and sometimes bicolor.

Foliage color: gray-green

Foliage texture: fine

Leaves are deeply lobed and fernlike.


  • cushion, mound or clump
  • upright

Varies from rounded to upright and columnar.

Shape in flower: same as above

Usually grown in masses where plant shape is indistinguishable.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • aggressive - Self-seeds if not deadheaded. Can become a weedy nuisance.
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Native to Europe.
  • bears ornamental fruit - If not deadheaded, seedheads prolong interest.
Special uses:
  • cut flowers - Must be treated before being placed in arrangements. Cut the stems in the garden, then recut them when indoors. Immediately dip the cut stem tips in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds, or sear the cut.
  • dried flowers - Seedpods (not the flowers) can be dried and used in arrangements.
  • direct-seeding
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed - Scatter the seeds on worked ground where desired in late fall, or in early spring. The seeds are very fine. Mixing them with sand before sowing to get a more even spread.

You can also start seed indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last spring frost, but this is not recommended, as Shirley Poppies do not like to be transplanted. Cover the seeds with a light layer of mix as darkness aids germination. They will self-seed for years after initial establishment.

Germination temperature: 55 F

Days to emergence: 10 to 14

Maintenance and care:
Deadhead to prolong bloom. The plants will bloom longer if the seedpods are not allowed to develop. Remove seedpods to prevent self-seeding if desired.

More growing information: How to Grow Annuals