How to Transplant Poppy Plants

Transplant poppies in autumn.
Transplant poppies in autumn. (Image: poppies image by Tomasz Plawski from

Poppy flowers are most commonly known for their use in making opium, but there are many other poppy varieties that make good landscaping flowers. The poppy flower is easily identifiable by its bright orange and yellow flowers that contain a black spot in the center. Poppy flowers bloom in the spring and summer months and will die out in cold climates. In warmer climates, the plants stop blooming around August and will rebloom the following spring.

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Wait to transplant poppies until the early fall when the weather turns cool and the plants stop blooming. If you are transplanting oriental poppies, you can transplant them in mid to late summer when their blooms wilt.

Insert a shovel into the soil approximately 1 foot away from the base of the poppy plant. Pull back on the shovel to loosen the soil near the plant.

Remove the shovel and place it next to the first location. Insert it into the ground and loosen the soil there as well. Continue loosening the soil in a circular pattern around the base of the poppy plant.

Stick one hand into the loosened soil and lift to release the plant from the ground. Grasp the other side of the root ball with your other hand and lift the plant free. Poppies have long taproots, so you may need to loosen the soil around the roots using your hands before the plant will come free.

Dig a hole for the poppy plant in a location that receives full sun and has dry soil. The hole should be 1 foot wide and deep enough to accommodate the tap root on the bottom of the plant. The poppy should sit at the same level as it did in the previous location.

Place the poppy plant into the newly dug hole and fill in the hole with soil.

Transplant additional poppy plants if desired, spacing each plant between 8 and 18 inches apart.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are transplanting poppy seedlings from a seed tray, wait until the threat of frost has passed in the early spring before moving them outdoors.
  • If you accidentally cut the main taproot while transplanting the poppy, it may not bloom the next season. The plant should regrow the root and bloom the following year.


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