Growing On Tibetan Poppy (Meconopsis horridula)
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Veronica Flynn
Posted on: April 26, 2002

I successfully germinated Meconopsis horridula (Tibetan poppy) seeds, but they did not survive transplanting into pots. Do they not transplant well, or is there something particular that they require? I know some poppy varieties dislike transplanting, but know nothing about Tibetan poppies.

According to James Cobb, author of the authorative reference for the genus, titled simply, "Meconopsis" (Timber Press, 1989), Meconopsis horridula is not easy to grow. Here is a quote from his book:

"If well grown the plant is normally biennial but winter-dormant to a resting tap root and often even starved plants not potted on will produce a few flowers and die. A small number in a large planting will wait to flower in the third year. It germinates well from seed, though the seedlings are rather gangling with the leaf petioles rapidly expanding and a newly pricked on box always looks a bit of a mess. The next stage in their careers at potting on is much the same as they are beginning to form a tap root, and don’t come out of the pricking on box in a neat fibrous root mass as do the rosette-forming species [of Meconopsis]. Do not despair, however, they do not seem to object to transplanting as long as it is done when they are around 5-8 cm (2-3 in) in size. It is essential not to check them at the pricking on stage and the long floppy leaves are vulnerable to wind damage. The planted out seedlings will go dormant early in the autumn and well before the related M. aculeata and M. latifolia." [Gibbs use of the words "pricking on" means transplanting. A "pricking on box" means a transplant flat or box to which you transplant seedlings transferred from a seed flat or box.]

Cobb goes on to write that horticulturalist Euan Cox commented many years ago that "conventional wisdom grows this species in a rocky scree where they undoubtedly will be quite satisfactory. He was in no doubt that they could be magnificient when grown in rich humid conditions. I tend to grow them in both conditions, but the best plants are always in the good rich soil especially in full sun."

We would be happy to send you some replacement seeds so you can have another go at them. Richters customer service will contact you directly.

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