How to stop poppies from spreading – the easy tips

Gardeners’ World: Monty Don gives advice on oriental poppies

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Poppies are a beautiful easy flower to grow, they will be sure to add vibrancy to your borders and are a perfect filler for any gaps or unused space in your garden. Once planted poppies come back year-on-year so you won’t have to worry about replanting them. These easy to grow flowers do have a downside, as they can often spread throughout your garden. Here are some tips to stop them from overpowering your borders.

The most well-known poppy is of course the Flanders or Field Poppy.

These stunning red flowers have come to be recognised as a poignant symbol of remembrance.

As well as providing a striking swathe of red to your garden they are also the simplest poppy to grow so these could be the ideal choice for novice gardeners.

If you’d prefer a different colour to beautify your beds and borders, there are plenty of other poppies to choose from.

There are approximately 120 different varieties of poppies in a wide range of colours so there will be one to suit any garden.

One problem with these stunning blooms is that they are self-seeding meaning they can spread on their own.

This can be problematic for gardeners as they can start to dominate.

How to stop poppies from spreading

Poppy seeds can stay in the soil for decades.

If the ground is cultivated and these seeds are moved to the surface they could germinate after years of lying dormant in the soil.

Opium poppies are among the worst for self-seeding and they can easily become a nuisance.

To prevent these poppies from setting seed make sure you deadhead spent flowers.

How to deadhead poppies

To stop poppies from self-seeding and spreading out of control you will need to deadhead them.

To do this cut off faded blooms above the leaves, so you don’t leave a bare stem.

Don’t pull on the stem when deadheading as this may release the seeds.

Instead, it is best to use sharp shears or even scissors if the stems are thin enough.

Make sure you disinfect your tools before your start to deadhead to prevent disease from spreading to your blooms.

Harvesting poppy seeds

To stop poppies from spreading you can harvest the seeds, many of these are edible and are perfect to top your porridge with.

To harvest them before they have a chance to self-seed watch your poppies closely, be ready to collect the seeds just before the pods split and they’re released.

You can allow the pods to dry on the plant and then bag them individually with a cheesecloth or old nylon stockings.

This may look unsightly for a period but it will ensure the seeds have reached maturity, which is important if you intend to eat them as well as ensuring the seeds aren’t self-seeded by the poppies themselves.

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