Wednesday, February 9th, 2011...12:00 am

The Himalyan Blue Poppy

Meconopsis betonicifolia flower against sun by vincentdunne

TheGardenLady received this question from Chazz.

I was wondering if you know anything about Himalayan blue poppy. Do you know what soil and climate they like to grow in, and if they will do well in Northern Pennsylvania climate?

There are two poppies called Himalayan blue poppy. One is Meconopsis betonicifolia (see here) and the other is Meconopsis grandis (see here). Both have true blue gorgeous poppy flowers. Both seem to have similar cultures. ThisGardenLady thinks that perhaps Meconopsis betonicifolia is easier to find in the US which may mean that it is hardier in this country. The UK seems to have more sources for the Meconopsis grandis.

Since the common name says that this poppy comes from the Himalayas, it tells you something about the cultures these plants like to grow in. They cannot stand heat. They like cool semi-shaded areas where they might naturalize. They will not tolerate afternoon sun unless you live in a cool climate like Maine. Though they seem to grow best in temp zones 6-8, some people have said they have had luck with the blue poppy in cold zone 3 and in hot zone 9. Alaska and the Pacific North West seem to have the most success growing these poppies. However, I have read that people in Wilkes -Barre, PA have been able to grow the plant; so you might be able to grow them in your part of Northern Pennsylvania.

These poppies want humus- rich, leafy, moist but well-drained soil. They do not like to sit in water where the root can rot, especially in the winter. They do not like excessive dampness which can be a magnet for mildew disease and slugs or snails. They can tolerate a little dryness between watering, but they do not like drought or to compete for water near the roots of trees. Their blue flower looks best in slightly acid soil. The plants appreciate generous mulching in the summer to keep the root cooler. They prefer to have shelter from cold, drying winds.

People who grow rhododendrons have success growing this flower. They are a rather tender, short lived perennial and people say they can be difficult to raise even for the experienced gardener.  See here.  But it is worth the try if you can find a spot in your garden that mimics the environment where the poppy comes from.

The Himalayan blue poppy can be started from seeds which you can get from a source like Park Seeds. Then if you are successful enough to have your plant flower, you can save your own seeds to start more plants. But starting this plant from seeds might be tricky. And many sources say it is easier to start with a plant.

Sources that sell the Himalayan blue poppy in pots are here and here.

Please let TheGardenLady know if you have success with this poppy so that perhaps more gardeners will add this flower to their garden.

Related Content:

1 Comment

Leave a Reply