Every few years we see the arrival of another new variety of common (or corn) poppy, Papaver rhoeas. Pastels, doubles, unusual individual shades – almost all of them are lovely. But ‘Supreme’ looks set to outshine them all.
Entered in last year’s Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year competition by Thompson & Morgan, unfortunately the pot of plants examined by the judges was not quite in full flower. It looked promising, but there just wasn't enough on show to assess fairly.
But it’s worth telling you about now that seed is available because it combines two invaluable elements: huge double flowers and delightful colours.
The individual flowers are fully double and reach 12-15cm (5-6in) across – yes, really! That’s up to twice the size of older double poppies like ‘Angel’s Choir’. And the colours are all picotees: white, with the petals edged in cherry red, pink, and orange shades. It’s a very pretty blend.
‘Supreme’ was developed at Thompson & Morgan by their award-winning plant breeder, Charles Valin. He told me how it came about:
“In 2011 we found a few plants with extra large double flowers within an old stock of double Shirley poppies. I crossed the best ones together and selected on for two generations for bicolour picotee edges and consistent giant flowers. The resulting seed mixture, Papaver rhoeas ‘Supreme’, has stunning picotee bicolours and the flowers are semi-double to double. It’s more robust and flowers for much longer than traditional Shirley poppies.
“Because the flower size of this new giant type came close to P. somniferum (opium poppy) size, I thought there might have been some hybridization of P. rhoeas and P. somniferum going on. But this hypothesis have been disproven by DNA tests, 'Supreme' is definitely P. rhoeas.”
You can order seed of Papaver rhoeas ‘Supreme’ from Thompson & Morgan.
Please note: the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS.