Growing Poppies In Pots | Care & How To Grow Poppies In Containers

Raul Cornelius is a Senior Editor at BalconyGardenWeb and an expert in flower and herb cultivation based in Phoenix, Arizona. A frequent speaker at horticultural events, he is also an active contributor to Facebook flower groups. Holding an MBA and a BCom, Raul blends his gardening skills with strong leadership and analytical abilities. Passionate about writing and photography, he enjoys early mornings with coffee and books, and nature bike rides during weekends.
Learn About Our Editorial Policy

2-Minute Read

Learn how to grow poppies in this article. Even if you don’t have a space for large flower beds, by growing poppies in pots you can still enjoy the colorful blooms of this stately flowering plant.

growing poppies

Beautiful and seemingly delicate, the poppies are the plants not particularly very easy to grow, but the beauty of the flowering plant makes it a popular classic. Those who want to enjoy the intense blooms in their container gardens must grow poppies in pots.

Best Poppy Varieties

There are some of the varieties of poppies that are popular and can grow well in a pot:

Oriental poppy

Most of the oriental poppy cultivars have large strikingly beautiful flowers that usually appears in late spring to early summer in bright colors like orange and red. There are also softer colors of this perennial flowering plant: pink, white and purple, with or without a central spot.

Height: 0.40 to 1.20 m.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-9

Iceland poppy

Usually grown as an annual or biennial this short living perennial is self-seeding and comes year after year, does not like the hot summers. Lightly perfumed flowers appear from mid spring to mid summer in colors like yellow, orange, red, pink and white. Flowers of this cultivar fade slowly than other poppies.

Height: 0.30 to 0.6 m.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9

California poppy

The showy state flower of California is a short-lived perennial in warm temperate and subtropical climates (USDA Zone 8-10). If you want to grow poppy in a tropical climate, try California poppy, keeping the plant in partial shade in summer.

Height: 0.15 to 0.45 m.

USDA Zones: 6-10b

Shirley poppy

One of the most beautiful and delicate poppies. Shirley Poppy is the name given to an ornamental cultivar group derived from the European wild field poppy (Papaver rhoeas).

Height: up to 0.6 m

USDA Zones: 3-9, can be grown in zones 10 & 11 as annual but doesn’t tolerate tropical heat well.

Choosing a Pot

Growing poppies in pots is easy; the plant is best grown in a medium sized pot. As poppies don’t tolerate waterlogged soil, ensure the pot has sufficient drainage holes in the bottom so that the water will drain freely.

How to Grow Poppies

Sowing Seeds and Planting

1. Poppy grows well from seeds. Make sure that you place the pot in a bright position after planting seeds as poppy seeds require light to germinate. Also, most of the poppies do not like being transplanted, so either choose a pot that is biodegradable or plant seeds in the exact pot in which you wish to grow poppy plants later.

2. Disperse seeds by hand in the pot. As the poppy seeds are very small, gardeners often mix them with sand to achieve a more equitable distribution. This also helps to see where the seeds were sown.

3. Tamp the seeds lightly down on the soil so that they are covered by a very thin layer of soil or sand. This keeps the seeds in place, and they’ll also get plenty of light for germination. Once the seeds are planted, moisten the soil making sure you don’t move the seeds.

4. Keep the soil constantly moist until germination. Germination depends on the climate and species but usually occurs within 25 days.

5. Poppies have a very delicate root system in the beginning so once the seedlings sprout water them gently. Thin out the seedlings 4-6 inches apart, when they reach a height of 5 inches. If you are planting in a medium to the large sized pot, you can easily keep more than one plant per pot.

Requirements for Growing Poppies in Pots

growing poppies in pots


Poppies love the sun, so place your pots in a spot that receives ample sunlight, at least 6-7 hours daily. However, if you live in a warm climate where the sun is intense, grow poppies in partial sun.


Poppies can thrive on a variety of soils unless it is clay rich and blocks the drainage, the best is to use humus rich, loamy potting mix. The substrate should be neither too loose, nor prone to compaction and must be well draining. Slightly acidic to neutral soil pH is recommended.


When the poppies are in bloom or about to bloom in warm season, watering must be moderate and regular. On the contrary, once you get past the period of flowering, best to leave the soil dry as much as possible and watering must be done only when the top one inch surface of soil seems dry.

Poppy Plant Care

growing poppies in potsFertilizer

Poppies are not heavy feeders; on the ground, they tolerate poor soil and thrive on their own, but when growing poppies in pots you’ll need to fertilize the plant. At the time of planting or at the beginning of growing season, usually, spring (fall in warm frost-free climates), add a slow-release fertilizer to provide a steady supply of nutrition to plant during the whole season.

If you haven’t added a slow release fertilizer, start to feed the plant with balanced liquid fertilizer on a bi-weekly basis once the plant has exceeded the height of 5 inches or when new growth emerges in spring. You can also feed the plant with flower fertilizer during the flowering period. Cease the application of fertilizer once the growing period ends.

Also, poppies are prone to magnesium and iron deficiency, application of Epsom salt is recommended.


Cut off the faded flowers to encourage more blooms.

Pests and Diseases

If the pot is not well draining or if you overwater the plant, it may die due to root rot. It also suffers from powdery mildew. In pests, keep an eye on aphids and spider mites.

Pin it

Growing poppy in pot

Recent Posts

Join our 3 Million Followers:


Related Articles


    • Yes, there are types of Poppies that produce the opiate but the US has a ban on those, so all we get are the ones that don’t produce the opiates you’re asking about.
      I realize I’m responding to a 4 yr. old question but others may wonder too. As far as Jaymz being childish and calling someone a dumb nerd….shows his lack of grownup words. SMH

      • You are incorrect. opium poppy, or papaver somniferum is federally legal in the US, as long as the grower doesn’t use the pods to extract opium. These are the same poppies that are so popular in cooking and ortimental arrangements. So you can grow them. But your intention is what makes it legal/illegal.

  1. Yes, poppies are the source of morphine. But it isn’t like you can make a batch of morphine in the kitchen. It requires specialized knowledge and equipment in addition to a HUGE crop of poppies to even be considered worthwhile for a person growing them for that reason. Anyway, yes, it’s legal to grow poppies. It is not legal to score the pods for purpose of ingesting them. Also, poppy seeds, the kind that you get on a poppy seed bun, come from these flowers and many home makers use them for their seeds. Many gardeners grow them in their garden for their bright, showy blooms.

  2. None of the poppies mentioned here are opium poppies. Those are called papaver somniferum, bread seed poppies or cabbage leaf poppies. And yes opium poppies are legal to grow.

  3. They sell the seeds at Wal-Mart. You’d need a whole field and a chemistry degree to make anything from them. It’s only one specific type of poppies anyways.

  4. I live in zone 6, and want to plant perennial poppies in a large ceramic pot. I need to take the pots in during the winter so that they don’t crack with moisture and freezing temps. Would I be able to put the pots in the garage (no light) to overwinter, or would I bring them inside and treat like a house plant?

  5. Thanks for this. There’s not much out there for growing poppies in containers. I’ve suffered with powdery mildew. had fertilizer issues. 👍🙂

  6. Papaver Somniferum poopy seeds will produce a poppy whose pods you can score to collect the milky sap (See youtube) which is the opium “base” and in fact without any processing at all can be ingested as a “tea” ingredient or small pinhead sized amounts placed on aluminum foild and heated with a flame to inhale the rising smoke, or smoked via an opium pipe to relive pain, depression, anxiety and more, it is just as addictive as morphine or herion. It is in fact LEGAL to GROW the poppys in the united states, it is however ILLEGAL to harvest the sap or use it in any form or fashion, unless you move to a state that has legalized narcotics for personal use. Possessing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs for personal use is no longer a criminal offense in Oregon. Those drugs are still against the law, as is selling them. But possession is now a civil – not criminal – violation that may result in a fine or court-ordered therapy, not jail. Therefore if you wish to cultivate poppies for the possession or use of their byproduct, you might want to consider moving to Oregon. In the initial processing of the milky sap, either by heating it in a container on a stove top or allowing it to evaporate, it will turn a sticky or tar like dark brown or black, hence the name Black Tar Herion. Please keep in mind that despite “states” within the Federal Union that legalize various drugs, the Federal authorities have not so, if the FBI, DEA or any other FEDERAL alphabet soup entity comes onto your property and finds “scored poppy plants’ or the black tar herion byproduct, despite the STATE penelties the FEDS will charge you FEDERALLY and they impose some extraordinarily tough drug crime penalties (Google it), plus, jail is not a pleasent place to cold turkey off the addiction you will develop…just sayin. (Good Luck)

    • Thank you…. maybe now there won’t be any name calling. I however appreciate you taking the time to write this very informative response.

  7. The black tarry substance derived from evaporating the substance from scored opium poppies is not “black tar heroin”, it is called OPIUM haha. Heroin is an “opioid” meaning it is a chemically altered opiate. The substances in poppies are called “opiates” meaning they occur naturally in somniferum poppies. The principal active alkaloids occurring naturally in somniferum poppies are morphine, codeine, and thebaine.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here