• AGM plants

    AGM plants have been through a rigorous trial and assessment programme. They are:

    • Excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
    • Available to buy
    • Of good constitution
    • Essentially stable in form & colour
    • Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases

Papaver somniferum

opium poppy

opium poppy

© RHS

  • Other common names opium poppy
    balewort

    carnation poppy
    dream plant
    fairy's charms
    flower of Venus
    Joan silver pin
    John's silver pin
    marble flower
    maw seed
    moonflower
    opium
    peony poppy
    sweet slumber
    white poppy

    see more
  • Synonyms Papaver hortense

  • Family Papaveraceae

  • Genus Papaver can be annuals, biennials or herbaceous perennials with simple or pinnately divided leaves and short-lived, saucer-shaped, 4-petalled flowers which may be solitary or in racemes

  • Details P. somniferum is a smooth, glaucous annual, to 120cm, with heart-shaped leaves, the upper ones clasping the stem and with toothed, wavy margins. The wide-open flowers have large petals surrounding a green, urn-shaped capsule with a flat cap, and many dark purple or yellow stamens. The capsule enlarges after flowering and makes a decorative cut flower fresh or dried. Colour is variable, often white or mauve, but garden selections may be in many shades of red, pink, purple and near black. Double and laciniate forms are widely available

Characteristics

  • Foliage Deciduous

  • Habit Columnar/Upright

  • Hardiness

    Hardiness ratings

    All ratings refer to the UK growing conditions unless otherwise stated. Minimum temperature ranges (in degrees C) are shown in brackets

    • H1a - Under glass all year (>15C)
    • H1b - Can be grown outside in the summer (10 - 15)
    • H1c - Can be grown outside in the summer (5 - 10)
    • H2 - Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen (1 to 5)
    • H3 - Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK (-5 to 1)
    • H4 - Hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5)
    • H5 - Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters (-15 to -10)
    • H6 - Hardy in all of UK and northern Europe (-20 to -15)
    • H7 - Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20)

    H5

Colour

Sunlight

  • Full Sun

  • Partial Shade

  • Aspect South-facing or West-facing or East-facing

  • Exposure Exposed or Sheltered

Soil

  • Sand

    Sand

  • Loam

    Loam

  • Chalk

    Chalk

  • MoistureWell-drained, Moist but well-drained

  • SoilSand, Loam, Chalk

  • pHAcid, Alkaline, Neutral

Size

  • Ultimate height 1-1.5 metres

  • Ultimate spread 0.1-0.5 metres

  • Time to ultimate height 1 year

How to grow

Cultivation Easy to grow in any well-drained or moist but well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. Short-lived flowers have distinctive "pepper-pot" seed pods

Propagation Propagate by seed in situ during spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types Drought Resistant Flower borders and beds Cottage & Informal Garden Gravel Garden Wildflower meadow Prairie Planting

How to care

Pruning No pruning required but deadhead if seed is not required

Pests Generally trouble free but may be attacked by aphids

Diseases May be affected by downy mildew in wet conditions and fungal wilts

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