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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Himalayan Blue Poppies: 3 Keys to Success

Meconopsis betonicifolia

We hear a lot of oohs and aahs when customers touring the nursery reach the flowering Himalayan poppies.  This awe inspiring sight often leads to questions about how best to grow these sometimes temperamental plants.

Meconopsis betonicifolia 'Alba' 

Here are our 3 Keys to Success:

 1.    SITE - Plant in a cool, bright location.  These are not heat lovers but they flower best with good light.  Plant them in light filtered shade or morning sun and afternoon shade.  They can be grown in full sun in coastal or far Northern climates.
Growing on a berm in bright shade

2.   SOIL - Plant in well-drained, fertile, evenly moist soil.  If you have heavy soil, find a high spot in your garden where water drains away.  Plant crown high and add both organic and inorganic soil amendments.  Organic amendments such as compost improve fertility while inorganic amendments such as ¼-10 crushed rock improve air penetration into the soil.  Proper soil preparation will really pay off!
Early season plant showing multiple rosettes
 3.   CARE - Should you remove the blooming stalk on first year plants?  Himalayan poppies are longer lived if they form multiple rosettes.  Some plants will form offsets spontaneously during their first season in the garden, either before they flower or even after they flower.  Removing the blooming stalk of plants that have not formed rosettes may encourage them to do so.  So, is it better to enjoy the flower or cut it off?  It is up to you.  We do recommend you deadhead after flowering.
Close-up of offset rosettes

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