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.
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.
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.
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 .