The sky-blue cup blossoms of false poppies dance dreamily in the light shade over the perennial bed. Blue poppies also unfold their fragrant clouds of flowers in partially shaded niches on balconies and terraces. In order to enjoy the picturesque impressions, the immigrant from the cool Himalayas does not make extensive demands. Even a beginner in creative hobby gardening succeeds in cultivating Meconopsis right away. The following care information will show you in detail what the exotic perennial rarity really values.


  • Plant family of the poppy family (Papaveraceae)
  • Scientific name: false poppy (Meconopsis)
  • Best-known representative among 54 species: blue poppy
  • Other flower colors: red, pink, white, purple and yellow
  • Native to the Sino-Himalayan region
  • Perennial, herbaceous flower with a growth height of 50-80 cm
  • Flowering time from June to August/September
  • Leaves bristly in a basal rosette or truss-clad
  • Spherical or cylindrical capsule fruits with numerous seeds in autumn

The most beautiful species and varieties of the Meconopsis genus have been used as ornamental perennials in European gardens and parks since the early 19th century. In addition, the seeds of Meconopsis grandis are considered a healthy, tasty snack when roasted or pickled.


The ideal light and temperature conditions for false poppies may seem a little surprising at first, because the perennial does not like full sun despite its abundance of flowers. Instead, blue poppy and its conspecifics favor these site conditions:

  • Half-shady location, likes under tall deciduous trees
  • Cool in the light shade and sheltered from the wind

Consequently, false poppy feels extremely comfortable at the edge of the wood or under the wandering shade of a canopy. In addition, the magnificent perennial is ideal for a location in the light shade of a stone plant. If blue poppy thrives in pots on the balcony, it transforms partially shaded niches into idyllic eye-catchers.

soil condition

Blue poppies prefer to put out their taproots and fibrous roots in humus-rich soil that is fresh, moist and well-drained. When it comes to calcareous soil, all Meconopsis species agree, because they don’t like it. Rather, the flowers thrive luxuriantly throughout the summer in a lime-poor substrate with a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.5. The potting soil should also be structured like this. Choose a high-quality product that is optimized using peat or leaf soil and lava granules.

watering and fertilizing

The degree of soil moisture and the natural amount of rain determine how often poppies should be watered in the bed. In pot culture, on the other hand, there is regularly a higher need for watering, since the root ball dries out more quickly due to its exposed location. How to manage the water and nutrient balance correctly:

  • Water the poppies as soon as the substrate surface has dried
  • Use collected rainwater or decalcified tap water
  • Gently shower Himalayan species early in the morning
  • Regular mulching with spruce needles keeps the soil moist longer

A portion of leaf compost in May and July covers the nutrient requirements of blue poppies to a sufficient extent. Give a liquid fertilizer for flowering plants in the tub every 4 weeks until the end of the flowering period.

Note: Once the poppy has finished its summer flowering spectacle, it will continue to be watered regularly. Drought stress after the end of the flowering period is one of the most common causes of perennial death.

To cut

There are numerous seeds in the capsule fruits that the poppy develops after the flowering period. If you give the perennial a free hand, it will distribute the seed in the garden and create plenty of offspring. With a targeted cut, you can stop this natural automatism if there is still space left in the bed for other types of flowers. Therefore, cut off withered flower stalks to a hand’s breadth above the ground. In this way, you also create space for a possible second flowering. Although blue poppy is not one of the typical flowers with reblooming properties, there is still a chance of another bloom after pruning when the summer weather is nice.

Tip: You can extend the lifespan of poppies by several years by cutting back the perennial in the year of planting before it flowers. If you cannot bring yourself to do this, you will not see half of your Meconopsis again the following year. From the second year, only cut off the stems at the end of the flowering period, but always before seed formation.


Leave the leaf rosettes on Meconopsis until February/March as additional protection against frost and winter moisture. In addition, we recommend a thick layer of leaves and needle twigs so that blue poppies get through the winter well. If the winter lacks a moisturizing snow cover, water the plant from time to time on mild days. Winter drought stress is one of the most common causes of root ball death in bedding perennials.

In the balcony box or pot, on the other hand, there is little chance that false poppies will survive the winter outdoors. Therefore, before the first frost, place the plant in a winter quarters with temperatures of 0 to 5 degrees Celsius. Until February/March it can be a dark room. From early spring, the perennial should move to the partially shaded windowsill with temperatures of 12 to 15 degrees Celsius to prepare for the coming growing season.


You are free to remove the seeds from the ripe capsule fruits in order to sow them. Of course, experience has shown that you rarely get blue poppies again, due to the pronounced tendency to hybridize. On the other hand, you play it safe with certified seeds from specialist shops, which are sown as freshly as possible. Therefore, follow these steps immediately after the seed harvest or purchase:

  • In December, fill small pots or seed trays with peat sand or common seed soil
  • Scatter the fine seeds on top and just press them down, as they germinate in the light
  • A layer of vermiculite no more than 0.5 cm high creates more stability
  • Moisten with a fine spray of lime-free water and place a glass pane on top
  • Place in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame, as a cold stimulus is required for germination

In the following 6-8 weeks, make sure that the seed does not dry out. If two more leaves have developed in addition to the two cotyledons, the young plants can be transplanted into individual pots. Take care of your false poppy in a semi-shady window seat at 15-18 degrees Celsius until the planting season begins in mid/late May.

Tip: The germination mood of cold germs is significantly increased by soaking the seeds in 0.1 percent gibberellic acid for a period of 12 hours before sowing. This germination accelerator is a plant growth hormone that significantly shortens the germination time and sometimes makes the cold period superfluous.


As part of the cultivation of Meconopsis, the following two types of pests are not far away. Read below to find out which pests are involved and how to fight them with natural means.

Unfortunately, the delicate flowers and leaves of poppies are a favorite food of voracious snails . Protection against the insatiable pests is therefore indispensable in the bed. How to keep the plague at bay:

  • Surround the planting site with a snail fence
  • Set up beer traps within the fenced area
  • Plant single specimens with a snail collar
  • Set up traveling barriers with sharp materials such as chippings or sawdust
  • Sprinkle coffee grounds, as caffeine is toxic to snails

If the infestation pressure increases, you cannot avoid using slug pellets. Prudent hobby gardeners use the poison in gap traps to protect harmless snails and other garden dwellers from harm.

In addition to the dreaded slugs, aphids are the most important pests on poppies. Check the leaves regularly on the underside and top so that you can act as soon as green, brown or black lice appear. In the early stages of infestation, you can stop the plague immediately with the classic soap solution. How to do it:

  • Add 1 tablespoon of curd or soft soap to 1 liter of rainwater and a dash of spirit
  • Add a drop of dish soap to improve adhesion to the infected foliage
  • Using a hand sprayer, spray the flower from all sides with the mixture every 2-3 days

If you are dealing with a hardened aphid colony, add 2 heaped tablespoons of baking soda to the water instead of the soap. Of course, this mixture should first be tested on a small area with regard to its effect on the plant.


The moisture-focused care of false poppy proves to be a double-edged sword with regard to possible diseases. It is primarily the fungal spores of powdery mildew that know how to take advantage of this fact. So don’t just keep an eye out for aphids and snails, but also pay attention to the mealy-white patina as a typical symptom of a powdery mildew infection. If you act against the disease with fresh milk at the first sign, you can save yourself the use of chemical fungicides. How to do it right:

  • Mix rainwater and fresh milk (no UHT milk) in a ratio of 9:1
  • Fill into a spray bottle and treat blue poppies and conspecifics with it every 2 days

The microorganisms and the lecithin in the fresh milk have been proven to successfully repel the fungal spores, at least in the early stages.

Recommended Varieties

Get to know some of the most beautiful species and varieties within the Meconopsis genus, which are recommended for cultivation in beds and tubs:

  • Tibetan poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia) – Blue poppy in its most magnificent form, which attracts everyone’s attention. The light blue flowers exude an intoxicating fragrance and are adorned with bright yellow stamens, growing to a height of 60-80 cm
  • Alba (Meconopsis betonicifolia ‘Alba’) – White-flowered variety of the blue poppy that has an equally robust constitution. Thanks to its white color, the variety even tolerates shady locations, growth height 40-60 cm
  • Francis Perry (Meconopsis cambriza) – Petite forest poppy with red cup flowers that smell wonderful and reach a diameter of at least 5 cm. Since this Meconopsis species stays small, it is ideal for balcony boxes and tubs in partially shaded locations, growth height 20-30 cm
  • Muriel Brown (Meconopsis cambriza) – Magnificent forest poppy with double flowers in bright yellow. The variety has a wide range of locations, because it not only thrives in semi-shade, but also tolerates sunny locations without direct sun, growth height 20-30 cm

Even the name blue poppy makes hobby gardeners sit up and take notice, because this color is anything but common for a poppy plant. Experiencing the enchanting flower with its sky-blue cup blossoms in person immediately awakens the desire to settle the beauty in your own green realm. It’s a good thing that false poppies are so easy to cultivate, as this care information makes clear. A semi-shady location with slightly acidic, humus-rich soil sets the stage for a long-lasting, summery bloom. If you like, you can combine yellow, white or orange conspecifics. Regular watering with low-calcium water, a portion of leaf compost from time to time and a light protection in winter make the rarity from the Himalayas shine in the bed and on the balcony every year.

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