Californian Poppies

Californian Poppies – The Californian Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a charming small, hardy annual, bringing an echo of West Coast sunshine to sunny places in poor, quick-draining soil. The species has bright orange-yellow, saucer-shaped, single flowers (about 7.5cm/3in across), borne in succession from early summer until mid-fall, and held 30-37cm/12-15in high above ferny blue-green leaves.

The flowers are followed by 7.5cm/3in cylindrical glaucous seedpods. There are several cultivars available, both semi-double and single, the former usually having wavy tissue-paper petals.

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Californian Poppies

They come in a variety of colors from pink through oranges to red: for example, ‘Mission Bells’ (23cm/9in), and ‘Monarch Art Shades’ (30-45cm/12-18in). ‘Miniature Primrose’ is only 15cm/6in tall and lemon-yellow.

Californian poppies self-seed, and even if you start with a mixture of different colors, you will soon find that you have mostly orange-yellows.

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Cultivation and propagation of Californian poppies


Sow in early spring where you want them to flower, or in early fall in a sheltered place with cloches over the seedbed. Thin seedlings to 15cm/6in. Deadhead to keep flowering going throughout the season.

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Use of Californian poppies

‘Miniature Primrose’ goes well with Anchusa capensis ‘Blue Angel’ or Phacelia campanularia, or the others with golden grasses, Convolvulus tricolor, red salvias and other bright half-hardy annuals. They look fine alone in crevices in paving .

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