Plant of the Month for July 2011

Papaver burseri; photo by Todd Boland
Papaver burseri

Description and general information

This 'alpine' poppy is native to the mountains of central Europe. Often erroneously calledPapaver alpinum, the real P. burseri has white flowers. Many of the commercial alpine poppies have yellow or salmon-pink flowers. These are mostly hybrids derived from or species of P. kerneri, P. pyrenaicum and P. rhaeticum.

This poppy is short-lived but can be maintained by allowing it to self-seed. Plants form a low tuft of grey-green delicate foliage. Multiple flower stems arise 15-20 cm and are topped by relatively large, pristine white flowers.

Cultivation

This poppy requires full sun and well-drained soil. Too hot and plants will go summer dormant and possibly die. Too wet, especially in winter, and plants will rot. A mulch of gravel is beneficial in wetter climates. They prefer neutral to alkaline soil. Rated hardy to zone 4.

Bloom period

March in the south to as late as early July in the north. Prompt dead-heading may result in sporadic blooming later in the season.

Propagation

Seed

Seed

Surface sow (require light for germination) seed at 15-20 C. They generally do not need a stratification period.

Division

Plants are tap-rooted and short-lived, their division is not practical.

Cuttings

Not generally practiced

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