Meconopsis baileyi. Perhaps one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. This relative of familiar corn, field, and opium poppies has spectacular, vivid blue flowers that only last a few days. For those few days it puts on a show almost unique in nature. No other flower demonstrates the absolute true blue found here. Himalayan poppies are famously challenging to grow from seed, but it helps to always use fresh seed. Like other poppies, these plants respond poorly to transplanting, so it is best to attempt growing them where they are to live. They prefer rich, free-draining soil in partial shade, with protection from wind. Prepare the bed by digging to a depth of 45cm (18"), and adding a mix of soil, finished compost (or finished manure with no smell), and finely milled bark mulch. Add a balanced organic fertilizer to promote strong growth. Sow the seeds in late winter and prevent the bed from drying out during the growth phase. It is recommended to pinch off the flower buds during the first year in order to establish strong roots. Once established in the right setting, Himalayan poppies may self sow.
This is a challenging plant to grow, even for experienced and professional gardeners. With other kinds of poppies, one can just sprinkle the seeds and a few weeks later, like magic, the flowers appear. This is not the case with Meconopsis, which is considered difficult to germinate and grow. The plant is native to shady, humid forests in the Himalayas. Please follow our How to Grow Meconopsis instructions closely for the best results.
Season & Zone
Exposure: Dappled shade
Zone: Hardy to Zone 5
Start in pots in a cold frame or indoors in March or April. Germination is slow, so be patient. Transplant 6-8 weeks after sowing. Keep soil moist, but not standing in water.
Meconopsis does not respond well to transplanting, and at the best of times germination itself can be tricky. It’s best to always start with fresh seeds. Strategy 1: Sow the seeds on the surface of sterilized seed starting mix, that has been moistened in advance, in coir or peat pots. Keep these under bright lights at 12-15°C (54-59°F) and only water from below. Do not allow the soil to become waterlogged. Sowing in peat or coir pots may reduce transplant shock. Transplant outdoors into a humid, shady spot after the second pair of true leaves has emerged. Strategy 2: Vernalize the seeds. Sow them thinly on the surface of gritty compost or perlite in trays. Mist the trays before wrapping in plastic and inserting them into the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Then bring the tray out and try to maintain a temperature of 12-15°C (54-59°F), under bright lights. Allow the second leaf pair to emerge before gently transplanting into well drained soil in 10cm (4″) pots. Grow the plants on until August before transplanting them to their permanent spots. They should bloom the following year.
It is generally recommended that any flower stems that emerge in the first year should be removed prior to flowing so the plant can devote its energy to foliar growth and root development. The strategy here is to encourage perennial growth. Prepare the bed by digging to a depth of 45cm (18″), and adding a mix of soil, finished compost (or finished manure with no smell), and finely milled bark mulch. Add a balanced organic fertilizer to promote strong growth. Keep the soil moist, but avoid over watering in order to prevent root rot. Protect the plants from slugs, pets, wind, and prolonged direct sunlight. One established in a favourable setting, Meconopsis has been known to self-sow.