california poppy

FAMILY: Papaveraceae | GENUS: ESCHSCHOLZIA californica

TYPE
  • Annuals
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Regular Water
  • Moderate Water
  • Drought Tolerant
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 10
  • TS (Tropical South) / Zone 11

Plant Details

Native to California, Oregon. It is the state flower of California. Free branching from base, with slender, 8- to 24 inches-long stems and blue-green, finely divided leaves. Individual plants grow about 6 inches wide. Single, satiny-petaled flowers about 2 inches wide; color varies from pale yellow to deep orange. Flowers close at night and on overcast days. In mild climates, it blooms from spring to summer, reseeds freely.

California poppy is not the best choice for important beds viewed close upunless you trim off dead flowers regularly, plants go to seed and all parts turn straw colored. It can't be surpassed, however, for naturalizing on sunny hillsides, along drives, or in dry fields, vacant lots, parking strips, or country gardens.

There are dozens of garden forms of California poppy, and new ones appear on the market regularly. The flowers come in shades of yellow, pink, rose, flame orange, red, reddish purple, and creamy white. Some have petals streaked or bordered in contrasting colors; they may be single, semidouble, double, fluted, or frilled. All tend to revert to the basic orange or yellow form when they reseed.

Sow seeds in fall where plants are to grow; seedlings don't transplant well. Broadcast on cultivated, well-drained soil; if rain is absent, water to keep ground moist until seeds germinate. For large-scale sowing, use 3 to 4 pounds of seeds per acre. Birds are attracted to the seeds, so keep an eye out. Drought tolerant, but looks better and blooms longer with more water.

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