I love growing annual poppies in my garden because they provide color, movement and pollinators like bees seem to be really attracted to them. This year Flanders poppy, or corn poppy, made an appearance in the garden and while I like the blooms just fine I don't think I'll plant it in my garden again. The flowers aren't as interesting as other garden poppies that I grow, even if they are more prolific bloomers. Below are pictures of Papaver rhoeas L. from my garden this past week.
Red poppy, corn poppy, red weed, corn rose, remembrance poppy and Flanders poppy are some of the common names for Papaver rhoeas L. I believe this is the only poppy that holds its flower petals erect like this, doesn't it resemble a tulip bloom?
Flanders poppy seedling which I almost weeded out because I looked similar to some garden weeds that were growing nearby. This seedling grew, branched and produce 15 poppy flowers buds on one plant. As the seedlings grow older the plant's color turns a blue-green and the stems and leaves becomes hairy. My Flanders poppy plants grew to a height of two feet, but I've seen them taller in other gardens.
Sowing Flanders poppy Seeds.
I usually sow poppy seeds in late winter in my garden, but since I had never sown these poppy seeds before I waited to sow them until the spring as the directions on the seed packet indicated. The seed packet stated that the seeds would germinate between 10-20 days and it was closer to the 20th day when I finally spotted some growth. As a matter of fact, it had been so long between sowing and germination that I had forgotten all about them and is probably why I mistook the seedlings for a weed.
Flanders poppy flower bud, the hairs look menacing but they are much softer than cacti spines.
Overhead view of the Flanders poppy bloom. The red petals of this poppy are like crepe paper and decorated with a black spot that's trimmed in white.
From the side the bloom resembles a tea cup and saucer.
Probably my favorite feature is the velvet-like fuzz that covers the pistil. While in bloom it may not be very noticeable but after the petals fall away from around the developing seed pod you can't miss it.
Flanders poppies have a long and interesting history, even if you've never seen a Flanders poppy in person you've seen the artificial poppies worn during the weeks before Memorial Day. During World War I popies bloomed in much of the Western front and inspired John McCrae's poem, In Flanders Fields, and Moina Michael's, We Shall Keep the Faith. Shirley poppies were developed by Reverend W. Wilks outside of Shirley, England. The Reverend spotted a poppy in a patch of Flanders poppies that was different, it was trimmed in white, and he saved the seeds. He sowed and saved seeds from these sports, selecting them for the white edge, until one grew that was pure white. This is the poppy you'll see people wearing during Remembrance Day.
If your interest in Papaver rhoeas L. comes from wanting to produce opium; you'll be disappointed to discover Flanders poppies do not contain any opium. They do however contain rhoeadine, an alkaloid used as a mild sedative. You may remember from your school days that Somnus, the god of sleep, gave Ceres, the goddess of grain, a concoction made from poppies to help her sleep.
A plant that is a prolific bloomer and that has an interesting history is a plant I will usually find room for in my garden. So why do I not have plans to grow Flanders poppies again? Well, it started with the Ladybird poppy seed packet from Burpee seeds you see above. When I planted Flanders poppy seeds I thought I was planting Ladybird poppy seeds and as you can see by comparing the pictures above to that of the seed packet, they are not the same plant. Ladybird poppies have four upright petals that have black spots, and resemble ladybugs. I have a niece who loves ladybugs and it was because of her that I sowed these seeds and now I associate Flanders poppies with a garden disappointment because Burpee sold me the wrong seeds. While searching for pictures of Ladybird poppies I discovered that Martha Stewart also uses this exact same stock photo of the poppies. Papaver rhoeas L. is a nice plant that blooms prolifically, to really enjoy it make sure you're planting it on purpose.
Other posts on Poppies:
How to Collect Poppy Seeds.
How to Sow Poppy Seeds.
Here is a video showing how I used ladybugs to fight aphids that attack the poppy seed heads in my garden. Here is another video illustrating how poppies attract pollinators, like bees, in my garden. I added a video tour of Flanders Poppy on my gardening video channel on YouTube.