The Californian Poppy – Eschscholzia californica
One of the iconic poppies, Eschscholzia californica is commonly called the Californian Poppy.
These are a drought tolerant plant, free flowering with orange to red flowers and ferny green foliage. The flowers appear on tallish stems and float around in the breeze. They are great addition to a wildflower meadow or any cottage garden style planting.
If you don’t have a garden, then you could grow them in containers along with other perennial plants.
Named after Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz, they were used by native Americans long before he stumbled across them in the early 1800s.
They are a plant that tends to flower early on in the season, late spring to early summer. They will reach around 30 cm (12 inches) in height, although sometimes they are much shorter than this.
These are a perennial plant that will self seed. The best way to grow them is by sowing the seed directly. In good soil and a sunny position they will establish quickly and require little to no care.
A humus rich free draining soil is best, although poorer soils are well worth a try for this adaptable hardy plant.
At the end of the season you can collect seed heads or simply let the plants die back and self seed.
Sowing the seeds
Seeds can be sown directly in early spring. Direct sowing is recommended as these are a plant that do not tolerate root disturbance.
Prepare the soil before sowing seeds, the seeds are only lightly covered and should germinate within 2 – 3 weeks.
You do not need to fertilise these poppies as they are not gross feeders.
If you intend to collect the seeds, let them fully develop and wait until the long thin seed pod turns brown and is dry to touch.
These seed pods should open easily and the seeds can be stored in a cool dry place until the next spring.
- Common Name – Californian Poppy, California poppy, Golden poppy, Copa de oro and Khishkhash Kalifornia
- Botanical Name – Eschscholzia californica
- Soil – Well drained, moist and humus rich.
- Position – Sun.
- Foliage – Mid olive green.
- Flowers – Yellows and lemon to orange and red.
- Flowering time – Summer to late summer.
- Growth Rate – Fast.
- Height – To 30 cm (12 inches)
- Frost tolerant – yes
- Drought tolerant – Yes
- Pruning – Cut back after the foliage dies back.
Californian Poppy seeds are widely available for sale.