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A picture of a Opium Poppy

Opium Poppy

Papaver somniferum

Also known as

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, Oilseed Poppy, Wild Poppy, Common Garden Poppy, Pepperbox, Poppy

Papaver somniferum flowers by tanja niggendijker (CC BY 2.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Frost Hardy


RHS hardiness


Minimum temperature

Expected size









  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Opium Poppy

A photo of Opium Poppy
A photo of Opium Poppy
A photo of Opium Poppy
A photo of Opium Poppy
A photo of Opium Poppy

Opium Poppy Overview

With its stunning flowers, long stems and green foliage, the Poppy is a valuable ornamental plant which can form a show-piece of any garden. This is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are derived, and is known to be the only species in the poppy family that is grown as an agricultural crop on a large scale. Not only is it a highly ornamental plant, with culinary and medicinal applications, but it is also the source of illicit drugs. In summer, the leafy stems produce bowl-shaped flowers, followed by large, blue-green seed pods that make excellent additions to dried arrangements. Care must be taken, however, as app parts may cause mild stomach upset if ingested.

Common problems with Opium Poppy

Pests include Aphids, Slugs and Snails. Other problems include Root Rot, Powdery Mildew and Mosaic Virus.

How to harvest Opium Poppy

Each poppy pod can produce many poppy seeds. When the crown on the poppy pod stands up and the pod takes on a chalky texture, it is time to harvest. Cut the poppy pods from the stems and let them dry in the sun or in a dry area. When the poppy pods are dry, turn them upside down to pour out and collect the poppy seeds.

How to propagate Opium Poppy


Sprinkle poppy seed on top of the soil from Autumn through Winter until Spring - they love the cool winter temperatures! Cover them lightly with soil and wet thouroughly.

Special features of Opium Poppy

Indoor plant

Simulate its natural growing conditions by growing it indoors. This poppy thrives best in cooler summer temperatures with plenty of natural sunlight.

Pot plant

Good to plant in pots, given sufficient drainage and sufficient sunlight.

Attracts useful insects

Ants, honeybees and other nectar-loving insects visit the flowers.

Attracts birds

Attractive flowers

Other uses of Opium Poppy

Ornamental, culinary, dried arrangements


Morphine and codeine are alkaloids found in poppies and commercially grown in India and Spain. The seed contain less than 1%.


Poppy seeds are an important food item and the source of poppyseed oil. They can be dry roasted and ground to be used in wet curry (curry paste) or dry curry too. Seeds are used as bird food.

Flowers - Annuals to direct sow in September

There is still time to direct sow these hardy annuals where you want them to flower next spring.

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