Eschscholzia: Californian poppy

Height 12-38cm (5-15in)

Planting distance 15cm (6in)

Flowers early summer to mid autumn

Any garden soil

Sunny site

Hardy annual

The fragile delicate charm of this group of poppies is apparent from the moment the conical green hats split open around their buds of crumpled silk until the petals fall to reveal long cylindrical seed heads. Produced from early summer until mid autumn, the bright flower display is complemented by the exquisitely cut, blue-green foliage.

Two species and their varieties are popular in gardens, where they can be grown in borders with poor sandy soil, or on sunny banks. They produce self-sown seedlings, so you can rely upon them to appear year after year.

Popular species and varieties

Eschscholzia caespitosa (syn E. tenuifolia) has small yellow flowers which appear freely between early summer and early autumn. It is a dwarf species, reaching just 12cm (5in) high, so it looks best grown as edging at the front of a border or in a rockery. Space the plants 15cm (6in) apart. Popular varieties include ‘Miniature Primrose’ (small lemon-yellow flowers) and ‘Sundew’ (scented lemon-yellow blooms). Eschscholzia californica bears masses of bright orange-yellow flowers from early summer until mid autumn, followed by long cylinder-shaped, blue-green seed pods. The plants reach 30-38cm (12-15in) high. Popular varieties include ‘Ballerina’ (double red, orange, pink and yellow flowers which are sometimes striped white); ‘Dalli’ (bicoloured scarlet and yellow flowers on compact plants); ‘Monarch Mixed’ (single and semi-double blooms in yellow, orange, red and carmine-pink); ‘Orange King’ (translucent orange flowers) and ‘Purple-Violet’ unusual mauve flowers with a hint of red in them).


Sow the seeds in the flowering site in early spring, covering them with just a sprinkling of soil. Thin to 15cm (6in) apart, when the seedlings are large enough to handle.

These poppies will grow in any soil, but thrive in poor sandy soils, and in full sun, which encourages an abundance of flowers with strong colours.

For plants the following year, delay clearing the site until the seeds have scattered.

Pests and diseases

Trouble free.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Eschscholzia: Californian poppy


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