Opium poppy


The opium poppy, which in most places is grown mainly for ornamental purposes, does not require excessive care; as far as irrigation is concerned, they must not be frequent, but carried out every 20-25 days, so that the soil has time to dry completely between one watering and the other. Obviously, it is also necessary to regulate on the basis of the rainfall trend and give the plant a smaller amount of water during the winter period. Water stagnations, which are very harmful to development and cause rot, must absolutely be avoided: they, caused by overabundant humidity, can be avoided by correctly and rationally distributing the water resources and integrating materials such as sand or expanded clay with the soil.


This herbaceous plant prefers well-drained soils and, possibly, with a neutral or basic pH; in general, however, it easily tolerates conditions that are not well tolerated by other species, such as aridity and the presence of limestone in the soil. It is suggested to mix the soil with peat and, as noted above, with materials that favor drainage, including sand. Planting must be carried out during the spring or autumn season; cultivation can take place both in pots and in the garden. In the latter case it is advisable to practice the plant after having worked the soil carefully, so as to eliminate weeds and soften the clods, creating optimal conditions for the growth of the plant. The holes must be placed at a distance of about 50 centimeters from each other.


Being the opium poppya species with an annual cycle, fertilization must be done only once, at the time of implantation; if the latter is completed in autumn, a nitrogen-poor fertilizer is recommended, an element that favors the development of the vegetative parts and therefore would tend to weaken the plant in view of the winter period. In spring, however, nitrogen must be balanced in a balanced way with the other two macroelements, potassium and phosphorus: the first is essential for the absorption of nutrients and for increasing resistance to cold, the second guarantees a luxuriant flowering and helps metabolism. Furthermore, microelements such as iron, whose deficiency determines the chlorosis of the leaves, magnesium and copper must not be lacking in the fertilizer used.

Opium Poppy: Exposure and Diseases

For the exposure, a bright spot is suggested, hit directly by the sun’s rays; this plant can withstand both heat and cold, as long as they are not excessive, but it is important that the environment chosen for cultivation is not characterized by intense winds, a source of damage. Another danger is represented by fungal diseases such as powdery mildew: it is caused by a too humid climate and is also called albugine or bad white, since it manifests itself with a whitish mold that tends to cover the leaves. This disease greatly weakens the plant and requires specific fungicide products or natural remedies such as horsetail decoction or garlic infusion for its treatment. It may be necessary, to encourage the recovery of the affected specimen, to cut or burn the diseased parts.

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