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When I Collect Poppy Seeds

I've finished collecting the last of the poppy seed heads in my garden this weekend and I thought I'd make a post to show the visual clues of when I know it is time to collect poppy seeds for those that don't know when to collect them.Saving and collecting poppy seeds from the poppies you grow in your garden is easy.

how to save poppy seeds

The two visual clues that I've picked up growing these plants is to first look for the color change. The seed pods on these poppies go from green to a purplish-brown color when the seed heads have dried.

How to Save Poppy Seeds

Update: I recorded this video which is longer and explains it better than the original video below on how to save poppy seeds.

The second visual clue I've noticed is that the pods start to open right below crown in the area where I've highlighted with the arrow. Sometimes though the openings will occur before the pods have changed color and vice-versa so I make daily checks on the seed pods so that none will escape my attention.

When I collect poppy seeds, seed head

By the time the seeds are ready to collect the stalks and leaves have turned yellow and I just pull them up and snip off the seed heads into a paper bag and allow them to completely dry out before emptying out the seeds. To empty out the seeds I find it easy to just place the pod upside down in a paper bag and tap it a few times so the seeds spill out. When I have smaller seed pods it is easier to just crush the head and remove the chaff later.

Updated: New to saving seeds? See How to Save Seeds for general tips and information on saving seeds from your garden for next year.


How to Transplant Poppy Seedlings in the Garden
How to Sow Poppy Seeds

Garden Video on how to collect poppy seeds in your garden


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. MBT - even with the arrow I still don't get it. Will this make more sense when I have actual Poppies or is there something wrong with me?

  3. Gina,

    I've updated the post with a picture of an unripened poppy seed head so you can see the differences. The arrow is pointing at the little openings below the crown. See how the openings aren't there in the green seed head?

    Thanks for posting because after I posted this I figured I should have included a before and after pic.

  4. MBT - thanks for posting the extra picture! It does make more sense now.

  5. Hey Gina,

    You're welcomed.

    1. Hi MrBrownThumb. I just watched your videos and realized that I have been taking the heads off my poppies too soon. Are they ruined now? I thought they would just mature on the shelf. I had no idea I had to wait for them to mature on the stalk.

  6. Hee, hee! I use my flour sifter to collect the seeds. I dump the pods in the sifter and then turn the handle. Voila! Seeds are shaken loose and the chaff stays behind.

  7. Hi Oldroses,

    That's a good tips too. Last year I bought a sifter at the dollar store for that purpose...but I don't know what I did with it.


  8. This is annual poppies are just getting going, and you're collecting seed? Amazing how much difference there is from garden to garden, province to province/state. Yet many similarities, too.

  9. Anonymous12:48 PM

    Thanks for the pictures, Mr Brown Thumb, I'm nearing seed collecting time, and I had no info about when and what to look for.

    I do have a question about the little webs that are in the second picture by the arrow. Are these webs from spider mites? I'm having problems with these little pests. Are they harmful to the poppy?

    Thank you again.


  10. Hi Angela,

    It could be webs from spider mites and I've found that you can generally control them with a good squirt of the water hose. They don't like humidity and thrive in dry climates and indoors doing things to increase the humidity helps control them.

    I didn't notice any harm caused by the whatever created the webs.

    Good luck with your seeds.

  11. Are there any considerations regarding the type of poppy plant and the seeds?

    Also, if they've been left to dry dry dry in the sun on the stalk, are the seeds still good to collect and eat?

  12. Smooshy,

    None that I am aware of.

    Nothing bad will happen if you leave them on the stalk for an extended period of time. The only real problem you may encounter is that you won't have many seeds because they'll fall out naturally with the wind.

  13. Are poppy seeds from the Asian Poppy (large open pedaled pink flower/black center) the same kind of poppy seed we buy in the store. My store bought are a lot greyer and a bit bigger than the poppy seeds I collected.

  14. Mxjane,

    I'm pretty sure they are P. somniferum. I don't know why there is a difference but I find them even in my plants. Some seeds are black and some are blue. The poppy seeds you get in the store for baking are the poppies that opium is harvested from.

  15. Anonymous9:48 PM

    What is the best way to store the seeds?

  16. Anonymous,

    I store then in junk mail envelopes. You can use coin envelopes or plastic baggies once they've dried out.

  17. Hi, I know this is a comment to a blog entry from a while ago, but I have a question. Do you leave the pod in tact to the stalk? Or do you cut it off? I have never gardened before and I have inherited an amazing garden with loads of poppy flowers, and they are wonderful. Some of the flowers have dried off, but the pod isn't dry yet (it's still green), so thank goodness I read your post, because I was ready to pry it open with a knife....hahaha, what a dumbie I am! When I shake it, I can hear them in there. Thanks!!

  18. Hi Huntress,

    Yes, go ahead and leave them on the stalk to dry. If you here them shaking in there it may be safe enough to collect. Or you could wait until the pods look like in the picture above.

  19. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Do Poppy seeds need a cold period (outside or in a freezer) to germinate. I'm talking about the annual, double poppy seed.

  20. Anonymous,
    Yes, the benefit from a cold period and they need light when sowing them. So don't cover them with much soil.

    Sorry for the late reply.


  22. Hi Alysha,

    No they're not. You can go to the garden center and purchase these seeds.

  23. Anonymous1:06 AM

    Thanks for the information. We have a big beautiful Poppy in our yard. We noticed it 2 years ago. When it first started growing I thought it was a thistle weed so i sprayed it with weed killer. The next thing I know we have this giant "thistle" with a flower growing out of it. The next year it bloomed 4 flowers. We asked around and finally found out that it was a poppy. This year we have 29 buds growing out of it. 8 of the flowers have already bloomed a beautiful orange.

    Thanks again for the information!!!

  24. Brian5:12 AM

    OK! So far so good and I have learned a lot.

    But, we are on holiday in France and the place is awash with Californian poppies, big, stout things, not the floppy poppies of the wartime battlefields in France.

    We want to take some seeds home to UK but they are not yet ripe.

    My question is: Will the seeds ripen and be productive if we cut the stems before the seedheads are dry and leave them to dry once we get back home?

    Regards, Brian

  25. Brian,

    I don't think they have California poppies in France, do they? I can't think of the name of poppies you're seeing but I saw some here recently. Your best bet would be to stop in a garden center there and see if you can buy some seeds there or take a lot of close, detailed pics and take them to the nearest garden center when you get home and purchase the seeds here.

    The seed pods will probably not mature in time if you cut them before they start to rot.

  26. Anonymous9:28 AM

    For Brian,

    If they are California poppies, yellow/orangish flower the seeds are not in the flower head but in a long pod that even if cut too early and stored in a paper bag will dry and harvest seeds. Don't use a baggy because it will retain moisture and possibly grow fungus. I grow Cal. poppies in the desert southwest of the U.S.

  27. I found your blog while googling poppy seed pods. I planted some poppy seeds for the first time this year, and they started blooming a few weeks ago. I wanted to see if I would be able to collect seeds from these flowers later, and based on your post, it looks like I can. Thank you for the helpful information!

  28. Thyme2Garden,

    Glad you found the post useful and hope you are able to save some seeds from the poppies you grew.

  29. Anonymous6:10 PM

    what a great tutorial website!! I love it. I love collecting seeds as much I love watching them grow in the spring and then I can't wait until I can collect the seeds again. I collect just about every seed i can just to see if I can get them to grow. Does anyone know where the seed for a geranium plant is? Thanks

  30. @Anonymous, Hi. Thanks for the feedback. Glad to meet another seed savers. I had planned to do a post on geranium seeds but I can't find the pictures I took this year.

    I searched my "Seed Snatcher" search engine and came up with these results. You should be able to find a picture here.

  31. Anonymous9:10 AM

    Some of mine are drying of now, however some are somewhat mouldy and when inspecting the seed pod (opening the head up) the seends are more of a black fur, totally useless i presume?

  32. Anonymous, It is possible that the "furry" ones are molded and may not germinate, but dry them and give them a try anyway. It won't hurt anything to try to sow them in the spring.

  33. Anonymous1:23 PM

    I believe I harvested my poppies to early. Is there any chance that the seeds will be okay? The flowers have already fallen off & the bottom leaves were turning brown but the pods were still green.

  34. Anonymous10:38 AM

    now tym to sowing seed...?? i have some seeds colour are grey n blue can i sowing the seeds now days.

  35. Anonymous9:28 AM

    I have a dilemma that I hope someone con resolve for me. I am working on a continuation of my old Master's thesis and, I have expanded my research to include herbaceous plants. I have chosen to incorporate the herbaceous plants because of the ease at which one can propagate a new generation in the lab/greenhouse. Like the bacteria, fungi, and plant viruses that I am working with, which can produce a new generation within 24 hours (or less) to two weeks. I can't do that with woody plants/trees. I chose poppy plants to work with because 1) they are beautiful plants when they flower and 2)simply to stick my thumb in the eye of my P.I. (I know.....that's mean, but.....)

    Anyway, I am having trouble with my "control" set of all things. My variables are an interesting lot but, without the survival of my control sets of plants, I cannot justify any claims regarding my hypothesis. I'm growing my seedlings in Miracle Gro soil with peat moss mixed in to help regulate moisture. I also have the plants growing in well-drained containers. The fragile roots do not seem to be hindered by the presence of the peat moss. I have a long-day/night cycle (on timers)set up to mimic natural sunlight during the spring/summer months. Granted, I don't have a green.....or brown thumb. My father could toss a dead stick on the ground and grow a tree but, I can't. (He's no longer with me so, I cannot ask him.) The plant "experts" that I have asked don't seem to have an answer either.

    What am I doing wrong here? Can anyone please help me? I would GREATLY appreciate any advice/suggestions that one may offer.


    1. Could it be the temperature of your soil? Is your light shining on your pots?

  36. Anonymous7:03 PM

    What a great little blog this is!

  37. Anonymous12:26 AM

    When to sow the annual types, like the ones that are big dark purple or red with black center..papafer somnious, or something like that...had a neighbor with some..have seen them at farmers market as plants...but very may/june can be 90+/-...too late?

    1. Hi, See my post on how to sow poppy seeds. There's a video with all the info on sowing poppy seeds right there.

  38. Anonymous6:00 PM

    I thank you very much for helping me grow my poppies - which i adore. I stood at a loss and thought i hope to find out what to do with the seeds that are due. You are a star and sorry that so many dingbats on the internet are daft. Thank you again.

  39. Anonymous12:24 PM

    Good morning, I haven't seen an answer to the question......can I cut down the green pods and dry then afterwards, my poppies are all finished and the garden looks a mess, but the pods are not dry yet. I want to remove them and dry them somewhere out of sight to sow later this fall, but am afraid I will ruin them if I harvest before they had dried in the ground. What do I do???

  40. Anonymous3:33 AM

    You didn't reply my post mr.MBT

  41. I would love to know the answer to that question as well. My annual poppies are already done here in CA as of May. I would love to pull the plants and hang them out of site with the hope that the seeds will continue to develop for reseeding next season. I have Papaver hybridum - Danebrog, Swansdown, Black Swan, and Orange Chiffon. Such dramatic beauties!

  42. I Have a question. Can I cut the stalks of my large orange poppies with the pods still green and allow them to dry and mature indoors in a vase? Will the seeds mature properly or do they need to be left outside?

  43. Can I cut of the stalks with my large orange poppy seed heads while they are still green and allow them to ripen indoors to collect the seeds?

  44. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Mr. Brown Thumb, this is the first time I am on your blog. We just bought our house last fall and this spring we had a large group of poppys grow. the bright orange with purple center. I don't know anything about them except they are magnificent. I was telling my husband we could grow more from seed and he went out and cut the pod heads off almost all of them. They are green and intact and I will be devastated if they are no good because they are not matured enough. Please tell me if there is something I can do to salvage the seeds. Thank you. New Gardener, Linda



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