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You can still plant Iceland poppies.

You can still plant Iceland poppies

Colorful crepe-papery blooms make Iceland poppy (Papauer nudicaule) a popular plant for the flower garden. If you have some already blooming or would like to plant some now, you can take several steps to ensure the best garden performance and long-lasting bouquets.

Considered a perennial, Iceland poppy is often treated as an annual an mild-winter areas, where it is traditionally planted in fall for bloom during cool winter and spring months. But you can still plant now. Nurseries should be well stocked with plants in several sizes, as shown above. Flowers come in yellow, orange, salmon, rose, pink, cream, and while.

For best results in mild-winter areas, choose larger plants for February planting. These will get off to a fast start so you'll be able to enjoy a longer bloom period before hot weather arrives. These plants in 4-inch pots and 1-gallon cans are often in flower, so you can select the colors you prefer.

If you live in a cold-winter area, spring is the best time for planting. You may see the first plants in February, with increasing supplies by March and April. You can get excellent results with the sixpack size. Or, if you'd like an earlier show, put out larger plants. You can also sow seeds once the ground is workable.

Iceland poppies prefer a sunny location with loose, fast-draining soil. For the most colorful show, place plants as close as 6 inches apart. Since the poppies are sensitive to transplanying, handle carefully to avoid disturbing the rootball. Provide moderate water and steady light; feed with nitrogen fertilizer throughout the bloom period. To protect young plants from birds, cover with netting.

Although Iceland poppies make a charming bouquet, flowers generally don't last long. To prolong their performance, treat as shown here. This also gives the added pleasure of watching the crumpled silky petals unfurl. Once the flower is ready to emerge, the buds literally pop open.

Photo: Three sizes of Iceland poppy plants are available at many nurseries in February: 4-inch pots, sixpacks, and 1-gallon cans

Photo: Day 1: for longer-lasting bouquet, cut buds (above) after stems lose sharp bend

Photo: Day 2: two blooms pop open in the morning (pods have dropped on the table)

Photo: Day 3: entire bouquet is open, will hold its flowers another two to three days
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1986
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