Name: Papaver orientale, aka Oriental poppy
Type of Plant: A perennial poppy that flowers in late-May and early June, hardy in zones 3 to 7.
Why I Love This Plant: Huge, outrageous flowers on tall stems in the late-spring and early summer! Humorous buds and opening flowers that wear the remains of the hairy sepals that protected the bud like small hats. I love that these red and orange flowers appear along with the pink peonies, demonstrating that orange and pink do indeed “go together.”
A Word to the Wise: These plants need well-drained soil and they don’t like hot, humid summers. If you garden in clay, plant these on a slope so winter-wet soils aren’t a problem.
Oriental poppies die back to the ground shortly after flowering. Once the stems and leaves are brown, cut them off. If you want to plant annuals in that area for blooming the rest of the summer, be sure to place those plants to the side of the poppy roots.
Papaver orientale usually put out new foliage in the fall – leave this as is and don’t clear it in a fall cleanup…that foliage is photosynthesizing and building up strength in the plant for the next spring’s flowering.
If you want this perennial to self-seed, leave the pods in the garden until they turn brown, and then shake the seeds out over the ground.