Tip: Poppy Seeds

poppy seeds

poppy seeds

Back in March, I was overtaken by the rare spring-cleaning urge and went to work on my potting bench. Believe me, it hardly ever looks this pretty. In the process, I unearthed a bunch of old seeds that were way past their prime.

valerie potting shed

Side note: I hate throwing things away. I’m one of those savers who is totally, unrealistically optimistic about the future need/use/transformation of something I don’t really want anymore in the first place.

For the hell of it, I threw all the old seeds in a bed out back. Well, of course, the entire bed is now packed with plantings of the most random ridiculous colors and offerings.


Photo by Evan Janke

There are purple tomatillos mixed with blaring burgundy amaranth, yellow rudbeckia, and lavender colored poppies mixed with summer savory.  It’s totally out of control.

I guess seeds last a lot longer that I originally thought (and score one point for this optimistic saver). Another bonus from this wild garden is we have been able to collect like a million poppy seeds.

The new plan once this space is cleared and the soil amended, is to plant the entire area in poppies. Wish me luck. If my poppy plan works, that adds another point to the tally. (But who’s keeping track?)


I never captured a photo of the poppies blooming (I blame the heat!) but this illustration reflects what they looked like.

bowl o poppies

Harvesting Seeds:

After the poppy blooms, a beautiful green pod will remain on the plant. You can use that pod in flower arrangements (like seen here) or you can use it to harvest opium—your choice.

poppy arrangement

If you choose to collect the seeds leave the pod in the ground until it turns brown and woody. Then, clip the pod off the plant and turn upside down, head first into a bowl (at this point some seeds may fall out). Grab some scissors and snip the star portion of the pod off and shake the pod into the bowl, rotating in a circular fashion, as some seeds will hide within the pod.

poppy pod

Voila! Seeds. Lots of them. Store in a clean, dry container in a cool, dark area until it’s time for spring planting. Don’t forget to label them!

Poppy Seed Storage