Plant Profile:The Corn Poppy


Papaver rhoeas, commonly known as the Corn Poppy, is one of spring's most eye-catching flowers thanks to its large, vivid blooms. Exceptionally easy to grow, this popular poppy appears not only in the garden, but also across America each Memorial Day, when poppies are worn to honor veterans and those who have died in military service. Inspired by the 1915 poem "In Flanders Fields," Americans began wearing poppies on Memorial Day just after WWI; poppies were an important wartime symbol because they were the first plants to return to barren battlegrounds. Today, silk and paper poppies are made and sold each May to benefit veterans and their families; if sown in late fall or early spring, real poppies will bloom at roughly the same time.

In their native Europe, Corn Poppies are sometimes considered a weed because they sprout in the fields of grain that lend them their name. Preferring a sunny location with well-drained soil, these annuals usually bloom in late spring, though some flowers can appear in fall if the weather is warm. Their seeds can lie dormant for an extended period of time, germinating when soil is disturbed. In total, there are around 600 species of poppy-- some other favorite additions to the garden include bright yellow California Poppies and the cold-hardy Iceland Poppy.

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