With their vivid orange, saucer-shaped flowers, California poppies are familiar to anyone who has lived in the West. The showy blooms are set off by gray-green, fringed foliage that grows about six inches high. Named varieties may have double flowers, frilled petals, or come in a wide assortment of colors.
Although Colorado may lack the poppy-covered hillsides of the Golden State, these wildflowers are easy to grow here. They are not fussy about soil. Sow seeds directly into the sunny garden in early spring. Melting snow should provide plenty of moisture for germination. Watering during dry spells will keep these drought-tolerant plants blooming for several months. Although the tender plants won’t survive a Colorado winter, allowing them to self-sow will ensure plenty of flowers for next year.
California Poppies are perfect for naturalizing among native grasses or in a rock garden. Try growing them in a parking strip, or along a long driveway. They quickly fill in bare spots in a new landscape.
Contributed by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener. For information, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com
Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann.