Each May, it seems as if a painter has applied bold bright red brushstrokes to the landscape. There is no painter behind this color explosion, but a delicate plant, the poppy. Poppies are cultivated in different variants. In addition to the usual red corn poppy, the morphine-containing opium poppy and the blue poppy used as a baking ingredient are also known. You can dry poppy capsules for your own use or to propagate the plant. How and when can poppies be harvested?

poppy variety

Poppy is a genus of plants from the poppy family. About 100 different poppy species are known worldwide.

The most well-known species in Germany are:

  • Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) in bright red
  • Turkish poppy (Papaver orientale) in delicate shades of pink
  • Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) in white to violet shades
Note: Blue poppy and gray poppy, which are used as baking ingredients, are variants of opium poppy. The name is based on the color of the poppy seeds.


Poppy capsules and seeds of different types of poppy can be used in many ways. For example

  • in dried bouquets or for handicrafts
  • as a baking ingredient
  • for oil production
  • as an active ingredient in drugs

The seeds of the blue-black poppy in Germany, the gray poppy in Austria and the white poppy in India are used in food.

By the way, the seeds of the beautiful red poppy are poisonous in large quantities. They are not used as a baking ingredient. Seeds and various other components of the corn poppy are used in medicines and in natural medicine because of their healing properties.

Morphine content of the opium poppy

Opium poppy contains morphine-containing components. In Germany, it can only be grown under strict regulations. He falls under the Narcotics Act.
In Austria, on the other hand, opium poppy cultivation has a long tradition. It is used for the production of local dishes. The consumption of poppy seed strudel, poppy seed cake or poppy seed rolls in normal amounts is completely harmless.


Depending on the variety, poppy seeds are black, blue or grey. They are kidney shaped. They are between 1 and 1.5 millimeters in size. The seeds are oily. Valuable poppy seed oil is obtained by cold pressing, which is used as an edible oil in fine salads. Poppy seed oil tastes pleasantly nutty. The seeds are rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium.

poppy harvest

Harvesting the poppy seeds that ripen in the poppy pods is laborious. In Austria, where blue poppy seeds are grown on a large scale as a baking ingredient, the poppy seeds are harvested mechanically. If you only want to harvest a few plants in your own garden, you can do without machines.

Before you start harvesting the poppy seeds, you need to check the ripeness. The following characteristics indicate the harvest maturity:

  • The seed pods are ready for harvest four to six weeks after flowering
  • Capsules that are ready to be harvested are no longer green, but light brown to light grey
  • ripe seeds rattle in the capsules


  • choose a day with dry weather
  • Capsules must not be wet
  • Cut the stems with garden shears to about 20 centimeters in length
  • Tie bouquets of about 20 stalks, shake out the seeds in containers
  • in a dry place, e.g. B. in the gazebo or in the attic, hang up to dry, so the remaining seeds loosen from the poppy capsules
Tip: hang the bouquets over flat bowls to dry. In this way, the poppy seeds are safely caught when they trickle out of the capsules.

Store correctly

After drying, store the collected seeds from the poppy pods in a closed, clean container. The seeds can be stored for two years. It is important that there is no more moisture in the container, otherwise the seeds will become moldy.

Propagation by seeds

The seeds of the poppy can not only be used as a baking ingredient, they can decorate your garden with beautiful splashes of color in the coming year. Poppy is one of the annual plants. If you don’t harvest the pods, it will reseed itself. Propagation by seeds is easy, the plant is very undemanding.

Just a few poppy plants will turn your garden into a bee paradise. Bees, butterflies and other flower-visiting insects love these plants.


  • choose a bright location
  • Prepare soil and rake finely
  • Distribute seeds widely
  • spray lightly with water
  • keep moderately moist
  • Sow the poppies from March
  • Sow the Turkish poppy from the end of April

craft tip

The empty poppy seed pods on the stick are far too good to throw away. After drying, they can be used in autumn and Christmas arrangements. Their resemblance to a head awakens the creativity of hobbyists and a poppy doll is designed in no time at all.


  • poke a hole in a small square piece of fabric
  • Push the poppy stalk through
  • tie with ribbon below the capsule
  • Draw a face on the poppy seed pod

The poppy seed doll can be guided by the stick. Your kids and grandkids will love this easy craft idea.

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