How to Grow Red Poppies


The red corn poppy, also known as the Flanders poppy, serves as a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers. This brilliant flower opens atop 2- to 3-foot stems creating a brilliant flash of red. When planted in masses, poppies produce a blanket of color that seems to float above the ground. When left to naturalize, red poppies self-seed easily and spread to new areas. An initial planting of poppies produces blooms for many years.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller
  • Sand
  • Sprayer
  • Rake
  • Till the soil for corn poppies in late fall for spring planting. Poppies grow best when sown early in the spring in northern regions. If your soil is already prepared, you can plant your poppies seeds as soon as the soil thaws and begins to dry.

  • Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic matter to the soil if your soil is either sandy or dense clay. Work the organic matter into the soil to improve aeration and promote good drainage. Poppies are not particular in the type of soil they prefer, but it must drain well to support their growth.

  • Mix poppy seeds with three parts sand to make sowing easier. This prevents the tiny seeds from clumping together and allows you to broadcast the seeds evenly over the area.

  • Sprinkle or scatter the red poppy seeds over the prepared bed in early spring. Southern gardens in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant heartiness zones 7 and above can plant poppy seeds in late fall for spring poppies.

  • Rake the area gently with a leaf rake to lightly cover the seeds with soil. Because poppies need some light to germinate, covering the seeds is not necessary. A garden rake can be used, but care must be taken not to completely cover the seeds.

  • Mist the area with the spray attachment to your hose and keep the soil evenly moist until seedlings emerge. Germination time varies depending on soil temperature. At 55 degrees F, poppy seeds typically germinate in 10 to 15 days.

  • Thin red poppy seedlings to 6 to 10 inches apart when they are 1 inch high, as recommended by the Colorado State University Extension.

  • Water when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Reduce water to deep watering once a week once plants are established and 4 to 6 inches high. Water deeply to moisten the soil to the root level.

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  • Photo Credit Poppies 1 image by DC Photography from
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