Regardless of the level of your gardening experience, you must have already known that the California poppy flower is one of the most popular ornamental plants today.
This plant is one of the 15 species of Eschscholzia found in California. The existence of this plant was first discovered in San Francisco around the 18th century by an expedition team from Russia.
The existence of this plant is not without controversy. The stoic and tenacious nature of California poppies makes it considered as a parasite or weed that can disrupt soil fertility on an agricultural area.
However, in California this plant is used as a state symbol, so the residents are prohibited from removing this plant without state permission.
A. More than Just an Ornamental Plant
Apart from being a stunning ornamental plant, this plant also has a number of other uses. The Native American people back in the days made use of their flowers as cosmetics, medicines, and cooking spices. They boiled, roasted, and even ate those flowers raw.
Moreover, it is also used as a base for mild sedative since it has an analgesic effect that would help a patient with insomnia and anxiety disorder.
However, the effect is far more subtle than the one you would get from opium (growing opium is illegal by the way).
B. California Poppy Meaning
The poppy actually has quite “scary” meaning amongst the ancient society because the Romans and Greeks were used the plant as an offering to the dead.
However, the California poppy meaning in the modern age isclaimed to be related as a symbol of calm and peace.
Moreover, in some parts of the world, the plant is also promoted as a symbol of strength and “unbreakable will” since it has very good resistance to diseases and bad climate. It will be a nice gift to someone who is struggling to find motivation.
C. How to Grow California Poppies?
Growing California poppies is not as difficult as you think. These plants have good resistance in almost all types of weather and can last a long time without water intake (as a good gardener you should, however, water them frequently).
This type of plant does not need special soil as a planting medium, but it does benefit from an excellent drainage system. California poppies are heat-loving plants, it does not require much water, so make sure that you will not over-watering these beautiful plants.
Furthermore, the plants are perfect for a novice gardener since it has a very flexible nature. You can grow it in your backyard, pot, glasshouse, or even rooftop garden. It will not budge easily to direct sunlight or cold wind.
However, you must be aware that the plant has an invasive nature. It can grow wildly, so you have to do a little extra treatment such as deadheading to maintain its territory.
To give you a clear instruction, here are some basic steps to grow California poppies:
1. Preparing the Site
As we previously mentioned, the plant is not required any special soil or planting medium. Nonetheless, you still to prepare the site to optimize the planting process. Since California poppies love good drainage, make sure that the soil you use does not store an excessive amount of water.
It also recommended adding a little mixture of well-aged organic compost to promote rich blooms. Make sure you are not putting too many of it to prevent over-seeding the plant.
2. Direct Seeding
Direct seeding method is prefered to maintain the flower’s root. You should plant them in a cool soil temperature to help the development of the seed in the early stage. As a suggestion, early spring is the best time to plant the seeds.
3. Remove the Spent Blossom
To extend the flowering period, make sure that you remove the spent blossom frequently. California poppies are self-seeding almost every year, so it will not decrease its’ growing process. In fact, it will help to maintain the beauty of your garden.
D. Common Problem for California Poppies
Although it is known to be resistant to various weather conditions and pests, California poppies still have a number of things that can damage its growth process.
First, it can be killed almost instantly by aphids and thrips. These insects are known as the fast breed pests that can destroy your entire poppies garden overnight. To prevent damage, use the appropriate dose of insecticidal soap on your plant.
Second, it can be damaged by moisture-related diseases, such as powdery mildew and gray mold. These conditions will stain the beautiful California poppy colors. To avoid this, there are some things that you must do.
Firstly, You must provide sufficient distance between one plant and another. This method is very useful for preventing infectious diseases from “eating” your garden away. With enough distance, you can quarantine affected plants quickly without harming the other.
Secondly, do not use overhead watering to moisturize California poppies, such method can cause damage to its roots and stems. Try using drip irrigation or soaker hoses instead.
Lastly, if the plants have already infected with these diseases, you must use organic fungicides to prevent further damage. You must also quarantine the infected plants if possible to avoid a chaotic plague.
If there is not any positive effect within a week, it would be better to retract the plant to its root and burn it down.
For beginners, California poppies are the best “experimental seeds” available on the market. The easy planting process and the nature of its seeds that are not easily died and has such strong resistance will make your gardening activities far easier.
Apparently, now you can get 1 pound of poppy seeds for 40 USD. You can also buy mixed seeds consisting of various types of poppy so that your garden appears more colorful.
Finally, there is no reason for you not to plant the California poppies in your backyard. Besides being an attractive decoration, the poppy flower is also known to be very effective to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Would not it be nice to have these gorgeous creatures visiting your house?