Also known as Breadseed Poppy, this is one of my favorite self-sowing annuals that puts on quite a show in early summer. Only lasting a day, the delicate blossoms of papery petals are a lovely mauve color atop gray-green, sharply serrated foliage. This type of poppy comes in white, pink, red and purple colors, as well as fringed and double varieties.
Beloved by bees for their abundant pollen, I often get cross-pollinated seedlings with a red variety I grow in another bed, which can result in a lovely raspberry color. I try to keep the separate beds true to color, as I once almost lost the mauve in a sea of red, so if a red pops up in the mauve bed, I do not let it to go to seed.
Happy bee in red/mauve cross.
Each seed pod contains dozens of tiny seeds that can be used for baking and cooking Eastern European and Indian dishes. I love lemon poppyseed muffins and fat bagels sprinkled liberally with poppy seeds. This is also the poppy from which opium is made, but one would need acres of poppies to collect enough sap to make trouble here!
After blooming, I generally allow only a few of the best plants go to seed and yank the rest, as they soon become unsightly, decimated by slugs and sooty mold. The pods can be used in dried arrangements after the seeds have been sprinkled around the garden for next year’s bloom. They reproduce prolifically and for best bloom, I thin the seedlings in spring to about a foot apart. It is quite amazing that they grow in two short months from a tiny seed the size of a comma to this lush, 24″ bloomer! Mother Nature is full of wonders, isn’t she?