Indulge yourself by growing this beautiful blue form of the exquisite Himalayan Blue Poppy. The scintillating, silky blooms aloft downy foliage give an absolutely breathtaking effect when planted in groups in shady borders and woodland areas.
Tall leafy stems bear a succession of single clear blue poppies, 8 to 10cm (3 to 4in) in width with contrasting yellow stamens. They emerge from rosettes of leaves over six weeks from late spring to early summer.
Himalayan Blue poppies are not difficult to grow, but are only suitable for particular sites: the soil needs to be neutral to slightly acid, moist but well-drained and enriched with leaf mould or humus to prevent stagnation; in a partially shaded site with shelter from cold, dry winds. They will thrive in areas with cool, damp summers.
The acidity of the soil will change the colour of your poppies: the more alkaline the soil, the more violet the colours will be.
The best way to get a good colony established is to plant a few pot-grown plants, allow them to self-seed, which they do happily in good growing conditions, and then leave the seedlings where they come up naturally. A true collector's item for the border!
Meconopsis betonicifolia has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
Sowing: Sow February to June or September to October.
The type of compost used for seed germination is not too critical. An important feature is for it to have high air porosity. The incorporation of grit enabling minimum root damage when pricking out is also preferable.
Place seed on the surface of the compost and cover with a very fine sprinkling of sieved compost or vermiculite. Water the pots from below (to avoid seed disturbance), or from above with a fine spray.
Seal the container inside a polythene bag or cover with glass or plastic to protect from heavy rain but not frost. Place outdoors in a cool greenhouse, coldframe or sheltered corner.
Keep the compost moist, never allow surface to dry out, especially after germination has taken place.
Germination can take two weeks to several months, sometimes occurring in the second year. Once germinated, place at 10 to 15°C (50 to 59°F) and water carefully from the base of the container to avoid damping off problems. Very dilute fungicide applied on first observing the problem can help.
Prick out seedlings at the two or three leaf-stage. Avoid damaging the stem, by handling the leaves only. Transfer gently to the same light compost, avoiding compaction. Place in a cooler place with shade from strong sunlight until growth has resumed.
Keep the plants growing actively, and repot before the pots become root-bound. It is important not to let the plants suffer a check in growth. Transfer into the garden when well grown, plant 45cm (18in) apart in deep, moist loam in a sheltered, partially shaded position. Remove spent flowers to encourage prolific blooming. At the end of the season, leave a few plants to die down and self seed. Others can be pulled up and composted.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Borders and Beds, Woodland Garden
Meconopsis is a genus of about 45 species of annuals, biennials, and deciduous or evergreen, often short lived or monocarpic perennials. They occur in moist, shady, mountainous areas, alpine meadows, woodland, scrub, scree, and rocky slopes in the Himalayas, Burma, and China, with one species from W. Europe.
The species has been introduced into cultivation during the past 150 years from their mountainous Asian habitats.
In recent years a lot of focus has shifted onto the nomenclature and identification of many plants due to hybridisation in gardens.
The genus name is from the Greek mekon meaning 'poppy', and opsis which indicates a resemblance, so meaning 'resembling a poppy'.
The Tibetan blue poppy was discovered and named for by Col. F.M. Bailey in 1913 in the Rong Chu in SE Tibet and named in 1915 from a limited amount of pressed material.
In 1924 Frank Kingdon Ward travelled to the same area and collected more substantial amounts of herbarium material and also seeds. In this way, M. baileyi (also widely known as Bailey's blue poppy) was introduced into western gardens. This name persisted until the publication of George Taylor's monograph of the genus in 1934
A closely allied plant had been discovered earlier (in 1886) in NW Yunnan by Pere Delavay. This plant was described and named, M. betonicifolia, in 1889, but it was not introduced into cultivation. Then, in his 1934 monograph, George Taylor maintained that the two taxa, were conspecific. Thus, as the name M. betonicifolia had priority (being the earlier validly published name!), M. baileyi became a synonym.
The species M. baileyi has been known for many decades under the name Meconopsis betonicifolia. However, the original name, M. baileyi, has recently (2009) been restored to this taxon. Seeds and plants will undoubtedly continue to be labelled M. betonicifolia by seedsmen, nurseries and garden centres for some time to come before the restored name baileyi catches on and is accepted.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 50mg Average Seed Count 200 seeds Family Papaveraceae Genus Meconopsis Species betonicifolia Cultivar Himalayan Blue Synonym Meconopsis baileyi Common Name Tibetan poppy, (Aka Meconopsis baileyi) Other Common Names Blue Poppy, Himalayan poppy, Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Late spring to early summer Height 60-90cm (24-36in) Spread 45-60cm (18-24in) Position Partial Shade Soil Deep, moist, loamy, well drained, acidic, Time to Sow Sow February to June or September to October.