Let’s Talk Poppies!
Going back thousands of years and spanning the world, the beloved poppy has a history as rich and diverse as the colors it flaunts. Famous for its contribution to traditional medicine in some western cultures, its inclusion in The United States Pharmacopeia, and for Dorothy’s deep sleep in The Wizard of Oz, the poppy demands and receives plenty of attention.
A Little History
Poppies grow wild all over the world from deserts to the tundra and date back to when they were domesticated by the indigenous people of Western and Central Europe between 6,000 and 3,500 BC. It is believed that the origins of the poppy might come from the Sumerian people, though the exact origin is still unknown.
The bright red Corn Poppy is often worn by veterans and other history lovers on November 11th, symbolizing Remembrance Day. This trend flourished after poppies began blooming in masse between the trench lines on the Western Front. Such poppies are notably mentioned in the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Colonel John McCrae.
Beyond its medicinal purposes, the poppy is also used in cooking oils, paints, and cosmetics. It’s even the subject of famous paintings like Poppies by Claude Monet.
There are over 800 species of poppies growing across the world. Here are some of the most popular varieties:
Oriental Poppy. The Oriental Poppy is a perennial that blooms in June and July. This variety grows best in mountain regions with cool weather. Be careful not to overwater. These plants must be allowed to die back.
California Poppy. The state flower of California, this annual poppy is fast growing, drought tolerant, inexpensive, and fantastic for wildflower gardens.
Iceland Poppy. The Iceland Poppy is a short-lived perennial that works as an annual in northern climates. There are over 80 varieties to choose from! Showy blossoms appear in late spring and early summer.
Corn Poppy/Shirley. This hardy annual poppy is perhaps the most recognizable of the poppies. They self-seed freely, often performing as perennials. Because of this, they are a good choice for southern climates where cold-loving perennials can be a challenge. The bright red corn poppy is worn on November 11th to honor Remembrance Day.
If its beauty isn’t enough to entice you, the poppy does offer a few other significant benefits.
- Great additions to butterfly gardens
- Attracts bees and beneficial wasps
- Deer and rabbit resistant
- Your horse will look fantastic riding through a field of poppies
Learn more about when, where and how to plant poppies in Eden Brothers’ Poppy Planting Guide.
If you’re looking for an easy way to add beauty to your garden, you really can’t go wrong with poppies. With their broad symbolic significance, lengthy history, and vibrant color, they’ll provide a compelling topic of conversation and an attractive addition to any garden. Shop poppies today!