How to Transplant Poppies

Knowing how to transplant poppies can be handy skill when it comes to these durable plants. Poppies are winter hardy in most of the U.S., are drought tolerant and are known to last for a decade or more in the garden.

Transplant Poppies Correctly

  • Annual or perennial? Poppies have a bad reputation when it comes to transplanting. Part of this bad rap can be attributed to a simple fact: annual poppies can't be transplanted, while you'll have better luck with perennial varieties. How to tell the difference? Annual poppies are grown from seed and have hairy flower stems, while perennial poppies tend to be grown from starter plants and their flower stems are smooth.
  • When's moving day? The best time to transplant poppies is in late summer. Poppies bloom from mid-May to mid-June and after the blooms fade the plant goes into dormancy until the following spring. You'll be most successful if you transplant poppies in August.
  • Divide and conquer. About every five years, you'll want to divide clusters of poppy plants. Dig the plants up when dormant and divide the ball into fourths. Replant the divided sections with 12" to 18" spacing.
  • The big dig. Perennial poppies develop a long taproot as they grow. In order to protect this root, you'll need to first dig a trench around the perimeter of your poppy plant and then dig in toward the center of the plant. Try to keep the root ball intact as you transplant poppies, unless you plan to divide them.
  • Moisture required. Once your poppies are out of the ground, you'll need to keep the soil moist until they're replanted. Try to time your transplanting so that you can dig the plants up and get them in their new location in one session. If this is not possible, keep the plants water until planting time. Once your poppies are transplanted, they'll require extra water for four to six weeks until the roots have a chance to become established in the new location.
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