What is it? As Monty Don once put it, no other plant is as unambiguously blue as this: it’s a real head-turner. Planted in the right spot, Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’ will put out sky-blue blooms from May to July. Height and spread: 75cm x 50cm.
Plant it with? Pair with the spires of foxgloves in white (Digitalis purpurea f. albiflora) or pink (D. ‘Illumination Pink’. Then add hostas, shuttlecock ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) or candelabra primulas (Primula bulleyana) for the woodland look.
And where? Moisture and good fertility are key. Find a spot in dappled shade, do not let this plant get anywhere close to drying out in summer, and add a mulch of leaf mould or bark chips in spring.
Any drawbacks? Success may depend on geography: meconopsis grows like cabbages in the cooler, wetter climes of Scotland but will be more of a challenge (and what gardener doesn’t love a challenge?) farther south.
What else does it do? Himalayan poppies are notoriously short-lived, but this strain has been bred to be a perennial, so it should endure for many seasons. Lift, divide and replant every few years to ensure continuity.
Buy it Order two jumbo plugs for £12.99 or four for £13.99 (prices include free UK mainland p&p). To order, call 0330 333 6856, quoting ref GU59, or go to our Readers’ offer page. Delivery from May.
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information.
- It took two years to grow the Blue Himalayan Poppy
- I’d nearly given up
- My plants were grown from divisions
- Blue Poppies like partial shade and cold winters
- These flowers are perennial so come back year after year
- This variety can probably be grown from seed
- Watching for seed heads
- Expanding the collection
- Meconopsis Care
- How to Propagate Meconopsis
- What Are the Main Pests or Diseases That Meconopsis Plants Face?
- Suggested Meconopsis Uses
- Blue Poppy Info: Tips For Growing Himalayan Blue Poppy Plants
- Caring for Blue Poppies – Blue Poppy Info
- How to Grow Blue Poppies
- Heavenly blue – but a devil to grow
- Opium poppy
It took two years to grow the Blue Himalayan Poppy
Blue Himalayan Poppies are best grown from divisions – small plants that are divided off the parent plant. Last year I was given two such divisions and I couldn’t wait to see them bloom. Sadly all they did in the first year was grow long hairy leaves and I was sure that I’d done something wrong. Fast forward a year and suddenly I notice a flower bud. A big one. I’m rarely this excited about a flower.
This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your continued support of this site!
I’d nearly given up
I’d nearly given up on Blue Poppies. They’re a notoriously difficult-to-grow plant that will only thrive in the most particular of situations. They’re especially treasured in botanical gardens and when the public are permitted in they are sometimes even stolen. To successfully grow them would be an accomplishment to be proud of.
My plants were grown from divisions
I started with two small pots of baby plants that were given to me last March. They were recent divisions and didn’t look that exciting at the time but that’s usually the case with plants. They shut down for the winter, pull in their leafy banners, and hide under the soil until spring arrives. Okay to be honest they looked like tatty dead old things and I wasn’t especially hopeful that they’d grow.
Blue Poppies like partial shade and cold winters
These flowers grow in conditions similar to their homeland: partial shady, cold winters, warm summers, and acidic soil. They like the same type of soil that azaleas and rhododendrons grow in so I planted them in this type of compost and then covered the soil with a light sprinkling of gravel.
I find that spreading grit or gravel over the soil in pot plants helps stop weeds from growing and keeps the compost moister for longer. This is especially important for Blue Poppies since they love moist ground.
These flowers are perennial so come back year after year
The leaves on both plants grew well the first year but it seems that new plants might only bloom in their second. If that is the case I’ve not read it anywhere but wish I did last year while I was impatiently waiting for the party to start. In any case, Blue Himalayan Poppies are perennial so I should expect to have this plant, and hopefully its sister and babies, blooming for years.
This variety can probably be grown from seed
I’m not 100% sure that the variety that was given to me is Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’ but judging from photos online I’m fairly certain. This is a modern variety that is fertile – meaning that new plants can be grown from the seeds. Interestingly, it wasn’t always able to propagate this way and it seems that a sterile hybrid decided to grow another set of Chromosomes and have babies. Life always finds a way.
Watching for seed heads
One thing that is not clear to me is whether or not the seeds from this flower will be viable. There’s a second flower forming on the plant but the second plant I have is not nearly as far along as this one. It could be that I’ll need to rely on divisions to propagate more of these flowers. I’d like to try growing them from seed too but imagine it might take a couple of years to get seeds that will grow.
Expanding the collection
The wait and surprise blossom was worth it and I’m so pleased to have these beautiful blue flowers in my collection. I think the next step will be to plant them out in the garden and to create a larger group of them over time. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to see dozens of these poppies swaying in the spring breeze?
Find Lovely Greens also on: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest
Browse Lovely Greens handmade soap and beauty products here.
The Himalayan Blue Poppy is part of the plant genus Meconopsis consisting of a little over forty species of flowering plants.
One of the most popular species is the Meconopsis Betonicifolia, commonly called the “Asiatic poppy.” Depending on the variety of this species, it’s also sometimes known by the following names:
- Tibetan poppy
- Himalayan blue poppy
- Blue poppy
The name “meconopsis” means “looks like a poppy” in Greek. It belongs to the Papaveraceae family which is commonly called the poppy family.
It has stunningly blue flowers measuring four to five inches across. However, the blue variety is one of the rarest of the Asiatic Poppies.
In fact, all varieties of Asiatic Poppies can be hard to obtain.
If you’re lucky enough to find one of these plants, you’ll probably find one of the yellow or red varieties.
While it’s an attractive plant, it can be difficult to care for outside of its preferred climate. It’s native to Western Europe, including parts of the UK, and thrives in cool humid shade.
Himalyan Poppies Size and Height
Asiatic poppies typically grow to about 16” to 48” inches in height with minimal spread.
Each blue poppy plant produces a cluster of branched stems with lobed or toothed leaves. They are also typically covered in soft bristles.
Blue Poppy Flowers and Fragrance
The Asiatic Poppy comes in a rainbow of colors. While the bright blue poppy is the most sought after, these poppies also come in various shades of red and yellow.
Meconopsis Betonicifolia typically blooms in the middle of summer for a short period. The plant also lacks any noticeable fragrance.
Light and Temperature Requirements
These poppies can be grown in partial shade to full sun. The main concern is wind, as it can break the long stems.
Meconopsis poppies prefers moderate, humid temperatures. However, they do not handle cold well. During the winter, plants may not survive freezing temperatures.
Watering and Fertilizing Tibetian Blue Poppies
Water these Asiatic poppies frequently throughout the summer and less often during the winter.
Add fertilizer when planting seeds or when first bringing young plants home. Fertilize several times throughout the summer months with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
Soil and Planting For Blue Poppy Plants
Blue poppies should only be transplanted when you first get them home or when transplanting seedlings to their permanent home.
The Asiatic Poppy has a short lifespan and shouldn’t need transplanting each season.
Use a soil containing humus and provides fast drainage. You don’t want the roots sitting in soaked soil.
NOTE: Use sterilized potting soil to help reduce the risk of fungus that may attack seedlings.
Maintenance and Grooming Asiatic Poppies
The flowers and stems eventually start to fade on Meconopsis plants which typically only last one or two years.
However, clean up any dead leaves, flowers, or stems until the plant reaches the end of its life span.
How to Propagate Meconopsis
You can propagate the Meconopsis plants by collecting and planting the seeds.
Wait until the plant produces flowers and the flowers die off they should form a seed pod that slowly turns light brown.
- Carefully trim the seed pod from the plant with a pair of gardening shears (Felco)
- Place the pod on a paper towel
- Allow the pod to completly dry for one to two weeks.
- When the pod and seeds are dry, sake the pod
- You should be able to hear the seeds rattle around
- Plant blue poppy seeds at the beginning of March in shallow containers you can set by a windowsill.
- Use sterilized potting soil and scatter the seeds across the top.
- Sprinkle or sieve a thin layer of soil on top of the seed and moisten it with a spray bottle.
- The soil should be wet but not soaked.
- Cover the tray with plastic and keep it in sunlight.
- When the seedlings grow and sprout leaves, transplant into small pots.
- Depending on size place one to three plants in the same pot
By early May, the young poppies should be ready to transplant outdoors, unless you plan to keep them inside as houseplants.
Remember to keep taller varieties in an area shielded from the wind.
What Are the Main Pests or Diseases That Meconopsis Plants Face?
Asiatic Poppies are relatively easy to care for, with few threats. The two most common problems include aphid infestations and fungus.
Aphids can be rinsed away with a spray of water from a water bottle.
Fungus is more of a threat for the seedlings. As mentioned, using sterilized potting soil helps you avoid this problem.
Suggested Meconopsis Uses
Use these poppies anywhere you want to add a splash of color.
Whether you purchase the blue, red, or yellow varieties, the vibrant flowers instantly brighten any room.
Asiatic Poppies can be grown outdoors in moderate climates. However, they need protection from strong winds that may damage the plant.
Blue Poppy Info: Tips For Growing Himalayan Blue Poppy Plants
The blue Himalayan poppy, also known as just the blue poppy, is a pretty perennial, but it has some specific growing requirements that not every garden can provide. Find out more about this striking flower and what it needs to grow before adding it to your beds.
Caring for Blue Poppies – Blue Poppy Info
Blue Himalayan poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia) looks just like you might expect, like a poppy but in a striking shade of cool blue. These perennials grow tall, three to five feet (1 to 1.5 m/) in height and have hairy leaves like other types of poppies. The blooms are large and deep blue to purple in color. And while they resemble other poppies, these plants are not true poppies at all.
The climate and conditions have to be just right to grow Himalayan blue poppy plants successfully, and even then it can be challenging. The best results are seen in areas that are cool and moist with excellent drainage and soil that is slightly acidic.
The best types of gardens for blue poppies are mountain rock gardens. In the U.S., the Pacific Northwest is a good region for growing this flower.
How to Grow Blue Poppies
The best way to grow blue Himalayan poppy is to start with the best environmental conditions. Many varieties of this kind of poppy are monocarpic, which means they flower just once and then die. Know which type of plant you are getting before you try to grow a true perennial blue poppy.
To grow blue poppies successfully, give your plants a partially shady spot with rich soil that drains well. You will need to keep the soil moist with regular watering, but it cannot get soggy. If your soil is not very fertile, amend it with organic matter before planting.
Caring for blue poppies has a lot to do with what you have to work with in your current environment. If you just don’t have the right setting, there may be no way to grow them beyond one season.
Heavenly blue – but a devil to grow
My excitement stemmed from the several years of failure that came with trying to germinate the seed of the blue Himalayan poppy, Meconopsis betonicifolia.
Thompson & Morgan (I have never quite forgiven it) waxed lyrically on the packet about the unearthliness of the poppies and painted a picture in my mind that meant the failure was all that more painful.
The seed was like dust, there was never enough and I was obviously not doing what I should in Hampshire to simulate the high altitude growing conditions of this exotic creature. It was a hard lesson: if you are to do well with a plant it has to have the correct conditions.
I am not the only one to feel the crush of disappointment. In her book Beth Chatto’s Woodland Garden, Chatto admits that after several frustrating years attempting to grow the meconopsis in her dry Essex garden she finally gave up so as not to lose any more plants to the inappropriate conditions.
Not even the most sheltered corners of her garden could provide the cool, damp atmosphere in which they thrive, with plenty of moisture in summer but relatively dry conditions in winter. Though I admire her discipline and know that I should also admit to failure in my London garden, a tiny part of my mind is firmly convinced that somewhere I must have a corner that would suit.
I do grow one meconopsis very successfully in my garden, the common or garden Meconopsis cambrica or Welsh poppy that is naturalised in parts of Britain. This European species is reliably perennial and, though short-lived, will seed enough to guarantee a constant presence in a garden.
My seed came from the Pyrenees, where I saw it growing with great sprays of Aruncus dioicus in a shaded ravine. One pod of seed was enough to establish it at Home Farm – it came up after the first winter’s stratification and has gone on from there to several other gardens in the same fashion.
It is a great opportunist, seeding about into cracks in paving, always preferring cool at the roots but being happy to have its head in sun or shade. With its delicate growth and dazzling yellow poppies, I like to use it to illuminate dark corners and am quite happy not to have the double form ‘Flore Pleno’.
I have had vicarious success in the past with growing Meconopsis betonicifolia in a client’s garden in the south of Britain. I bought plants rather than raised them from seed and they were given a position against a moss-covered (proof of ambient moisture) north-facing wall.
I had three plants on which I lavished leaf mould and other nutritious treats. Over as many years they produced the unearthly blue flowers, then they dwindled and died like foxgloves do after flowering.
This species is heartbreakingly short-lived even in the most advantageous conditions but if the climate is with you, as it was in Edinburgh, it is possible to keep it more or less perennial by dividing it yearly or every other year just as growth starts in spring.
Although not the pure celestial-blue of M. betonicifolia, the darker, inkier shade of M. grandis is almost as amazing. Of similar habit, with a basal clump of foliage and tall aching clusters of flower, this is a more reliably perennial plant with a greater vigour making it a little less prone to disappointing if you live in the south.
Meconopsis quintuplinervia, the harebell poppy from Tibet and China, is also worth a little extra effort. I have a particular fondness for this species, which I first saw on a cool north-facing mountainside in the Himalayas, kept dry under a canopy of snow in the winter but moist in the summer because it was growing high up in the clouds.
It was quite clear how compromised life might be in the greater part of Britain where the winters are wet and the summers comparatively dry. It is always worth a try, however.
I must mention the monocarpic Meconopsis napaulensis and M. regia. Now these really are amazing plants if you are prepared to put in the time and find a niche they like. After three years they form a rosette measuring up to 3ft across.
In my opinion, sights such as this make it worth submitting to the fretting and extra attention that this fascinating tribe demands.
Where to buy
- Secret Seeds sells seed of both yellow and orange Meconopsis cambrica and a mix of yellow and red Meconopsis napaulensis (www.secretseeds.com).
- Crocus has 3 x 2 litre plants for £15 (www.crocus.co.uk).
- Thompson & Morgan has packs of 50 seeds for £2.49. (www.seeds.thompson-morgan.com).
Where to see
For publishers wishing to reproduce photographs on this page please phone 44 (0) 207 538 7505 or e-mail [email protected]
Opium poppy, (Papaver somniferum), flowering plant of the family Papaveraceae, native to Turkey. Opium, morphine, codeine, and heroin are all derived from the milky latex found in its unripe seed capsule. It is also grown for its tiny nonnarcotic ripe seeds, which are kidney-shaped and grayish blue to dark blue; the seeds are used in bakery products and for seasoning, oil, and birdseed (see poppy seed).
- opium poppyOpium poppy (Papaver somniferum).© liubomir/.com
- Collecting resin from opium poppies in a field in Afghanistan, 2008.AP
The opium poppy is an annual plant and can reach about 1–5 metres (3–16 feet) tall. It has lobed or toothed silver-green foliage and bears blue-purple or white flowers some 13 cm (5 inches) wide. Red-flowered and double and semidouble strains have been developed as garden ornamentals. The seeds are borne in a spherical capsule topped by a disk formed by the stigmas of the flower; the seeds escape from pores beneath the disk when the capsule is shaken by the wind.