Collecting Californian Poppy Seeds

Collecting Californian Poppy Seeds

I love the vibrant colours of Californian Poppies. I am sowing these annuals from seed I collected in my own garden last autumn. However Garden News this week was giving away a packet of ‘Fruit Crush’ a blend of citrus and berry shades so I have extra to sow and still have some left for a September sowing.


I picked some long thin pods from my Californian Poppy ‘Eschscholzia’ plants and left them in a dish on a sunny windowsill.
Within 24 hours the mature pods had dried and started to open.
The dried pods had curled and expelled the seeds naturally.
After 48 hours I had plenty of seed to collect for subsequent sowing.


I picked pods that seemed mature and were starting to brown. The seed in green pods may have been under-developed and not viable.
The plants will also have self sown from other pods close to this years plants. The way the pod twists will gently ‘sprint’ the seed out of the pod so it has a chance of finding clear soil.

I like the strong vibrant colours of these Californian Poppy photographed in warm light at the end of a summer evening.

Californian Poppy

The blooms shown below also show the flower head, after the petals have fallen, in a tight cone (bottom left). Then the cones elongate and you can see some long, green, curved pods that will lead to my seed collecting later on.

Californian poppy Eschscholzia

Sowing Tips for Californian Poppy

  • Sow Californian Poppy Eschscholzia seed direct outdoors where they are to grow from March to May or in September for overwintering.
  • Autumn sowings or self sown seed will flower in late spring.
  • Choose a position in full sun on poor, well drained soil which has been raked to a fine tilth.
  • Sow seeds thinly and cover seed with its own depth of soil to exclude light.
  • Water the ground regularly, especially during dry periods. Germination usually takes 14-21 days.
  • When seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them out to 4-6″ apart.
  • Seed companies say you can sow in seed trays and plant out but I think the roots are too brittle and resent being transplanted

If you are unable to collect your own seeds you can buy fresh stock from seed merchants and mail order from Thompson & Morgan

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