Poppies bring a wonderful splash of colour to winter, with the season usually starting in early to mid June. When open their colours vary from deep crimson, lilac to violet or white, to bright yellow or soft pink. The tissue-paper-like flowers may be single, double or semi-double. The flower buds are nodding or bent downwards, turning upwards as they open. Flowers consist of two layers: the outer layer of two dark furry sepals drops off as the bud opens. The inner layer consists of 4 (but sometimes 5 or 6) brightly coloured petals that expand and unfurl.
Poppies are usually bought with many flowers in bud, and getting these buds to open can be a bit tricky – see below for tips.
Poppy stems are often seared to prevent leakage of the milky sap. This sap can cause contact dermatitis and can be quite toxic if ingested or absorbed across the skin.
Poppies are grown as a field crop. Most are grown in Victoria, NSW and QLD.
Language: (General) ‘Eternal Sleep’, (red) ‘Pleasure’, (white) ‘Consolation’, (yellow) ‘Wealth and Success’.
What to look for
- One or two flowers per bunch that are fully open;
- Several buds should be split and showing colour;
- Avoid bunches with shrivelled stem ends.
- Keep cool at all times.
- Recut 2 cm off each stem with sharp secateurs, making sure you remove the seared stem end and place in cold water immediately.
- Do not mix with other flowers for the first 24 hours after stem ends are cut.
- Preservative is needed– it will help buds to open and flowers to last.
- Replace water every day.
- Place in a high vase to prevent stems toppling over.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
Poppies have a long history. They were being grown as ornamental plants in about 5,000 BC in Mesopotamia. Dried poppies have been also found in Egyptian tombs. In Greek mythology, the poppy was associated with Demeter, goddess of fertility and agriculture.
The opium poppy, P. somniferum, is closely related to P. orientale. Opium poppies are still the major source of morphine, with large plantations (legally) grown in northern Tasmania.
Botanical Name: Papaver orientale, P. nudicaule
Common Names: Iceland Poppy, Oriental Poppy, Poppy
Stem Length: 30 to 70 cm
Country of Origin: Asia
Available Colours: Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow