How to harvest Poppy seeds

This year I discovered the beauty of Poppies purely by chance. I found a packet of seeds at a garden center and spontaneously bought them. Not really taking the sowing process seriously I filled a glass container with some planting soil and popped the tiny seeds in. I watered lightly, covered the vase with clingfilm, placed it on a windowsill downstairs and forgot about it. A few weeks later little seedlings started popping up in different makeshift containers on different windowsills around the house. I was due to give birth any day and didn’t want my little seedlings to die while I was busy with a newborn, so I transferred my different seedlings into a flowerbed in the garden, not exactly knowing what was what.

When I got back from a longer stay at the hospital than expected, I found a mixed jumble of plants thriving in the flower bed, and the most beautiful flowers that I had ever seen. After some research I found out their name: Lilac PomPom poppies. The little packet from the garden center.

Their blooms have brought me so much joy this summer, and I fell so in love with their papery blossoms and tall stems that I have done tons of research about poppy flowers since. I found out that there are approximately 120 different types of poppies, that they are prolific self-seeders, and that there are annual, biennial and perennial poppies. Another great thing about these flowers besides their beauty: bees love poppies!

After the blooms of Lilac Pompom poppies have withered, you are left with a beautiful green seed pod. It is so decorative that it is used in flower arrangements and Christmas decorations. The pods are also gorgeous just left in the flower bed. Lilac Pompom poppies are tall flowers: 90 cm’s, so the large green pods are very visible swaying in the breeze.

Lilac Pompom poppies are annual flowers, which means that they live their whole life in one year. Once annual poppies have gone to seed, pull up parent plants and compost. But don’t forget to save the seed pods!

To harvest poppy seed pods, cut when the pods turn light brown and dry out for 1-2 weeks. I hung my seed pods on my balcony, as I have had luck drying flowers there earlier. Only do this if the seed pods haven’t formed little “windows” around the crown that disperse the seeds. If they have done this you can go straight to harvesting the seeds.

If windows have not formed, this is when the fun starts! Shake at the pods. If you can hear the pods rattle, the seeds are ready to be harvested. Gather a couple of coffee filters, tape, a permanent marker and break open the pods.

Carefully put the seeds into a coffee filter. I like to put my coffee filter into the coffee filter holder from my coffee machine, because it holds up the filter for me.

Mark the coffee filter with the name of the flower. I like to use the latin name: PAPAVER PEAONIFLORUM. Tape shut and store in a cool dry place for up to two years.