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Flanders Poppy, Corn Poppy, Papaver rhoeas L

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.

Flanders poppy flower, Corn poppy flower, Papaver rhoeas L.

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?

Papaver rhoeas L. Corn Poppy, Flanders poppy seedling

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

Flanders poppy flower bud, the hairs look menacing but they are much softer than cacti spines.

Flanders poppy flower, Corn poppy Flower, Red poppy flower

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.

Flanders red poppy flower

From the side the bloom resembles a tea cup and saucer.

flanders poppy seed heas

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.

Ladybird poppy seed pack from Burpee seeds

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.


  1. Happy little poppies. I love any kind of poppy, perhaps the more so as they last no time at all. Even my microscopic garden has a place for Orientals... perhaps the biggest indulgence in my small garden. Yours look very pretty, spots or no.

  2. How about a little help MBT? My dad used to grow lovely annual poppies that looked a lot like your Flanders, but which were the soft lavender-white-pink pastels that I love - and were the papery feel you describe. Altho they grew prolifically in his garden, I never managed to get any going. He sent me some seeds one year, but apparently I didn't do them right. So, I'm zone 7B with southern heat and humidity... got any idea what poppies those might have been and more importantly, HOW do I grow them? Many thanks. webb

  3. Love them! So pretty... we had California poppies growing up but I think I like these better.

  4. @Helen,

    It has spots...just that they're not so noticeable since they're covered by the foliage. Unlike in the picture of the Ladybird poppy bloom where they're very noticeable.


    It sounds like the poppies you grew were the Shirley poppies described above. There are now a lot of different colors available and the white-pink pastel is a pretty common/popular one. In my experience poppies seeds need a cool and wet period to germinate. If yours can't take the southern heat try sowing them in the fall or winter in your area.

  5. I actually just posted about my poppies yesterday. This year, we did "Lauren's Grape". They are a great purple minature variety, but the blooms can only be enjoyed for a couple days before they drop off. Danish Flags hold their petals and will probably be what we do again next year.

  6. @Hawk3ye,
    I've never grown the California ones before I think maybe I should give them a try.

    @Red Icculus,

    I just checked your blog. Don't think I've grown the Lauren's Grape before but it sure is nice.

  7. I grew California poppies many years ago on the parkway and they were beautiful. Then someone turfed my parkway plantings and I never planted them again. You have jogged my memory and they were lovely, maybe another try but not on the parkway!


  8. I hate it when the flowers don't match what you think you bought :/ The Flanders do look nice..too bad I'm not much for red blooms.

  9. I never thought of planting poppies before, but now I need to add them to my list for next year.

    More poppy trivia for you: Remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her friends are crossing the huge field of poppies and Dorothy falls into a deep sleep?

  10. Beautiful Poppy's! I have a couple of that rich red colour. Love them!

  11. I love the rich, saturated colors of poppies. I can see why you'd choose the Lady Bird poppies MBT, although the ones they sent you are nice too. It's aggravating though when you get something different than you thought you were buying. Burpee should send you some free Lady Bird seeds since the packet was labeled wrong!

    Loved the video. The ladybug looks like it's in Ladybug Heaven!

  12. You know how every gardener has trouble growing some plants that really aren't hard to grow? For me it's poppies, which I love. Always admire them in my friends' gardens. Finally got some decent-size foliage from this year's crop of winter-sown seedlings, but no blooms yet and they're an annual (& black!) variety. (Crossing fingers...)

  13. @Gatsby Gardens,

    You really should plant your California poppies again.

    @Mary C,

    Right? I think I would feel better about these blooms had they been what I had intended to plant.


    I sure don't :0). I've never seen The Wizard of Oz. I'll have to check it out just for that scene.


    Thanks! Glad someone out there likes them.

    @Garden Girl,

    I should compose a strongly worded Email and see if they replace the pack. Although, something WAY cooler may be in the works. :0)


    Get out! You sowed Poppy Black Cloud? I'm jealous!

  14. Not 'Black Cloud' but 'Black Peony' (Papaver paeoniflorum)... not sure how black it will be, but will be happy with any bloom at all.

  15. I love, love, love these poppies. They grow wild where I used to live in England and I have a photo of my beautiful daughter at about 10 months sitting in a field surrounded by them. They bring back wonderful memories.

  16. This poppy grows wild in my garden here in Scotland. I used to always pull it out as I treated it as a weed but ever since my husband took a keen interest in all things WW1 and discovering our family history I've let them flourish in the garden.

    Good timing aswell for this post. It was the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme over the past few days which a relative of mine who was in the 39th Ulster Division lost his life in Flanders fields and his bodies was never found.

    Thanks again for your comments over on my blog.



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