Californian poppy are known as hardy annuals (but could be considered a self-seeding perennial) belonging to the Papaveraceae family of plants.
Like many wildflowers, they will thrive in poor, well-drained soil but they need full sun or light partial shade for the flowers to open. As a result these plants don’t need rich soil or manure mulch and can be sown into a sunny, otherwise difficult spot. (The same is true of nasturtium, which apparently are spicier in poorer soils).
Once established California poppy are hardier than their delicate appearance would have you think, being drought-tolerant plants and survive neglect happily.
The Californian Poppy, also known as ‘cup of gold’ and golden cup’ has wispy, fern-like foliage and lively, bright orange, red and yellow flowers. Dazzling through the summer, plants are drought tolerant, thriving in light, poor soil. Richer soils tend to produce more foliage at the expense of blooms. …. If required for indoor displays, cut stems when the buds are in advance stages, but still furled. – Californian Poppy Seeds, Mr Fothergill’s
Californian poppy have self-seeded throughout the woods over the course of years, settling in small pockets of sun within the wooded beds, providing delightful splashes of bright yellow colour. In some areas – such as in the raised black currant beds along the side of the building – they can be a nuisance. To control these I weed them out as they are relatively fragile and it would be too disruptive to the other plants in the bed to try to transplant the California poppies. Otherwise I’m careful to deadhead regularly, and occasionally gather the seed heads in my palm and then walk and sprinkle the seed in areas that could use a splash of colour – which ensures that they don’t continue to self-seed and take over the raised beds.
They are good additions to sunny meadow areas, as well as being recommended for exposed or coastal areas.
In May 2020 I sprinkled seed at the allotment at the top of the plot near the new summer brick shower stand by the newt pond. Here’s hoping some of them come to life!