Red poppy

Red poppy

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The red poppies, with flowers that embellish any outdoor space and are imposed by the vivacity of the colors, grow spontaneously both in cultivated lands, in the middle of the wheat fields, and in the meadows. They are cultivated with ease, require no special care and at the same time ensure a very special note to your garden. The flowers of the red poppies are placed at the ends of slender hairy stems and have velvety petals, of ephemeral beauty. They can be grown in the most arid and sunny areas of the garden, not well suited to other flowers and to which the red poppies give a natural and wild beauty. The red poppy It is a plant appreciated not only for its appearance, but also for its therapeutic virtues and for its use in the kitchen.

Main features of the poppy plant red

A native plant of the Mediterranean basin, the red poppy (or common poppy or rosolaccio) belongs to the Papaveraceae family. The genus Papaver includes more than 70 species, of different colors and of different sizes. Some species can even reach one meter in height, while dwarf varieties are just 20-25 cm high. The genus Papaver includes both annual and perennial species. The annual species, which also includes papaver somniferum, are often toxic.
THE flowers delicate and odorless of the poppy are placed at the end of the slender stem, the leaves are oval, long, with serrated edges and covered with a thick hair. The stem produces a milky substance that repels insects.
At our latitudes the poppy plant red grows spontaneously and includes over 120 different varieties. Most of them have red petals with black spots at the base. The upright-standing stems are robust and long. They have a thick hair and hold elongated leaves with serrated edges. The flowers begin to bloom from mid-May to June but there are late varieties that extend their blooms until October. It is precisely the flower that contains precious active ingredients that are used in the official pharmacopoeia. In particular, some substances have sedative properties at the base of many remedies with a calming effect. The stamens are used in herbal medicine to create relaxing sedative infusions for both the mind and the muscles.

Red poppy in short


Gender Papaver
Type of plant From flowers, from cut
Origin Mediterranean basin
Vegetation Annual
Foliage caduco
Habit erected
Use Balcony, terrace, garden, hedge
Height at maturity From 15 cm to 60-80 cm
Growth rate rapid
Diseases and pests Aphids and powdery mildew
Temperature Resistance to cold, but not to humid heat

Variety of red poppy

There are many varieties of red poppy at present. Some are the result of random crosses in nature while others were created with hybridizations. Among the most beautiful varieties there is undoubtedly the Atlantic poppy. It is originally from Morocco and the flowers are particularly large. Resists well to high temperatures and does not fear prolonged periods of drought. Also the poppy rupifragum is highly decorative and grows spontaneously in southern Spain. The flowers have an orange-red shade and once flowered, they last on the stems for a couple of days before falling to the ground. Among the most suitable varieties to create borders there are the heldreichi and the lateritium. Both come from Turkey but also grow well in our latitudes.

Blooming red poppy

The flowering of the red poppy lasts the whole summer, coloring the whole garden with deep red spots: the shape and the color make the flowers immediately evident in the borders, in the rock gardens and in the flowerbeds, despite the slender shape of the plant . It must be remembered that the ephemeral beauty of red poppy was a source of inspiration for many poets and painters, for example we can mention Claude Monet who portrayed them in the painting "Poppies" and Vincent Van Gogh in the "Field of Poppies".
Red poppy can be associated in gardens with other wildflowers, colchics, scions or other green plants.

Poppy cultivation

The red poppy plant does not need special care to grow well. However, if you want to create a garden of only poppies in your garden, get the seeds of the chosen variety from an agricultural consortium. Fertilize the soil with mature manure and mix it together with a few handfuls of sand to increase its draining characteristics. Sprinkle the soil with the seeds in the spring, water and wait patiently for them to begin to germinate. After a few weeks you will see the new maps. Wait for them to reach at least a height of five centimeters before thinning them. To get the plants faster, you should buy them at a retailer and plant them with the first spring warmth.
Cultivating red poppy is quite easy, therefore it is a plant suitable even for non-gardeners. It is only necessary to sow it and wait to see the seedlings appear, which will soon be reproduced covering the whole land. For sowing it is advisable to choose a point in the garden that is very dry, drained and exposed to the sun. The common poppy prefers limestone and poor soils, where it will reproduce spontaneously year after year.

Meaning of the red poppy

The red poppy plant, by virtue of its antispasmodic and relaxing characteristics, is the symbol par excellence of those who have a weak character. However, since the most remote times, its deep red color has been interpreted as a symbol of absolute power. In this regard there is also a legend connected to one of the kings of Rome: Tarquinio the proud. He showed his son the fastest way to destroy the city of Gabi by telling him to shoot down the tallest poppies first, or the prominent political positions, then all the others. In the Renaissance period the poppy was chosen as an allegorical figure to indicate marital fidelity and it is often found depicted in works made in the sixteenth century. Instead, in the language of contemporary flowers, the poppy is interpreted as the dormant pride.

How to grow red poppy

Exposure to the sun is undoubtedly preferred by the red poppy, which can sometimes grow even in partial shade.
The common poppy is a plant very resistant to low temperatures, even to those below 00 degrees, but it does not tolerate damp heat.
The red poppy does not have particular requirements with regard to the soil, in fact it can grow even in poor soils, provided they are well drained, but prefer the calcareous soil.
It is not necessary to water the plant, which does not need a high water supply. But it is advisable not to let the plant endure periods of drought that are too long.
Poppies are not very demanding plants, so they do not need fertilizers until sowing.

Poppy pruning

Red poppy does not require any care. If, however, you see that the plants multiply rapidly in a limited space, proceed to remove the seed capsules when the petals have wilted: this way you will avoid the plants becoming too thick. When the leaves begin to wither, cut the stems without tearing the plants so that they spontaneously snack new flowers the following year.

Propagate the poppy

Poppy propagation occurs initially by sowing, but once the plants have taken root, they reproduce spontaneously.
For sowing
Proceed to sowing in April, when the temperature begins to rise. Before sowing, prepare the soil, removing weeds and working it. If it is too heavy, add sand to make it more draining. Create a smooth surface and moisten the soil with water.
If you want poppy plants in your garden to look more natural, similar to those in the fields, sprinkle seeds in rain, as it is much nicer to see poppies sprawled in a space. After sowing, using a small hoe, cover with soil, taking care not to accumulate the seeds in the same place, and again spray on the ground with water.
After sowing, make sure that the soil remains constantly cool, until you see the seedlings tick. When the first shoots appear, remove some plants where they are most dense. A distance of about 20 cm between one plant and another could be sufficient. Once this operation is completed, water the seedlings.
From this moment on, the red poppy no longer needs any care, since it does not require watering or fertilizing. The following year, it will not be necessary to proceed with sowing again, since it occurs spontaneously from year to year. In fact it cannot be planted, but it can be reproduced only through spontaneous sowing or not.
The poppy can also be sown in September, because the winter cold will favor the resting of the seeds and will facilitate the development of new plants in the spring period.

Pests and diseases

Poppy is not very susceptible to attack by insects since the latex contained in the stem usually keeps pests away. Among the main enemies are the aphids and thepowdery mildew if the soil in which it is grown is too wet or if the nearby plants are infested with pests. In this case there are no remedies, other than to avoid the excessive humidity of the soil or to spray a solution with water and soap on the plants.


If you intend to use the petals for the herbal teas, collect them before they wither and fall, then drying them in the shade, placing them on sheets of paper or on a cloth, and placing them in a warm, ventilated place. If necessary, move them so that they do not blacken or acquire too dark a color due to drying. Once the drying is completed, store them in an airtight glass jar, pressing them lightly so that the least possible amount of air remains inside the jar, which you will place in a place not exposed to light.
If you want to keep the whole capsules or just the seeds contained in the capsules, collect them before drying, which would cause the seeds to spill out. Allow the capsules to dry and store in an airtight jar. If instead you intend to keep only the small seeds, open the dried capsules and remove the seeds. If they are not completely dried, complete the drying process by exposing them to the sun, but beware of the humidity of the night and the morning dew that would compromise the process. When they are dry, keep them in an airtight jar not exposed to light.

Curiosity: the healing properties of red poppy

Red poppy is widely used in natural medicine for a number of phytotherapeutic properties. In addition to the sedative virtues, it is also very useful against cough and hoarseness. Therefore it is usually recommended for insomnia and respiratory tract infections. With the petals, the capsules and the poppy leaves are prepared infusions and herbal teas.
THE flowers they are edible and can also be used to decorate some dishes or to color drinks. The tender shoots are excellent for salads, such as leaves. The seeds are widely used in confectionery and to prepare bread or other baked goods, but also in perfumery, in fact the red poppy is used to prepare, perfumes, soaps and creams thanks to the cosmetic properties that are recognized.

Poppy infusion

For the infusion (for sedative purposes): place on the bottom of a container 20 g of dried petals or 6-8 petals, pour a liter of boiling water, cover the container and leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes . After the rest time, it is filtered with a colander and consumed hot or warm immediately if you want it to be effective.

Poppy decoction

For the decoction (against insomnia): boil a liter of water and add 8 to 10 dried red poppy capsules boil. Continue to boil for about 10 minutes and strain. Take the warm decoction.

Red poppy: Precautions red poppy

Some people may be particularly sensitive to poppy, so test the infusion or herbal tea by taking small doses.
The intake of poppy-based products is contraindicated for children under 7 and during pregnancy and lactation. Furthermore, when taken at high doses, the poppy may cause drowsiness or hallucinations.
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The cultivation of red poppy


Maintenance Absent
Exposure Full sun
Ground Calcareous, sandy, well-drained
Cleaning / Pruning Absent
Water needs Average
Composting Not necessary
Multiplication Sowing