Learn How To Grow And Care For Hardy Iceland Poppy

The summer-blooming Iceland poppy Papaver nudicaule is a hardy perennial suited for cold climates as it comes from the icy, rocky terrains of Iceland and the polar regions.

Featuring large, bright flowers on leafless stems, the Papaver nudicaule has become a popular outdoor perennial in colder regions and grown as an annual in warmer regions.

bright Icelandic poppy flower

It is part of the family Papaveraceae along with the:

The Iceland also goes by a couple of common names:

  • Icelandic Poppies
  • Arctic Poppies

Papaver nudicaule pronounced [puh-PAY-ver new-dee-KAW-lee], is an easy-care and easy to grow flower that even thrives in harsh conditions.

While it is an undemanding plant and deer resistant, the following tips will help ensure optimal growth.

Iceland Poppy Care

Size and Growth

Most varieties of Icelandic poppy reach between 12″ to 16″ inches tall. It’s a low-growing plant with bushy growth near the roots and flowering stems that reach about six inches.

While the flowering stems don’t produce leaves, the bushy growth below produces tiny, thin leaves that cover the base of the plant.

Flowering and Fragrance

Iceland poppies are available in a rainbow of colors.

The flowers bask in full sun in various shades of yellow, pink, orange, salmon, cream, rose, and white.

Several of these flowering plant varieties are even bi-colored.

The bloom time starts in early spring with blooms typically lasting into early fall. The flowers appear at the ends of the stems and produce a slight fragrance.

Each flower contains four delicate petals around a handful of stamens.

Later in the season, the ovary appears and develops into the seed heads. It resembles a small lamp when ripe.

For indoor flower harvesting, the flowers can be picked when they are still buds, just as the color starts to show.

TIP: Sear the tips of the flower stems with a lighter to increase the life before placing them in a vase.

Light and Temperature

While there are many popular plants that grow best in warm weather, the Iceland Poppy prefers cooler weather. It’s recommended for USDA hardiness zones 2 to 7.

Despite the need for cooler conditions, the Iceland Papaver poppy likes full sun but also grows well in partial shade.

It’s a hardy plant that thrives just about anywhere if the weather doesn’t get too hot or humid.

Watering and Feeding

Iceland poppies don’t need frequent watering. Only water the plant when the weather is dry during the spring or summer. During the winter, it rarely needs watering.

Feed the plant once or twice each season unless the soil is already fertile.

Soil and Transplanting

It grows well in poor well-drained soil. If the soil is too rich or too much fertilizer is added, the plant will grow thicker. Unfortunately, the extra growth discourages flowering.

If the soil drains too quickly, adding some clay to the mix can help create a firmer foundation for the plant.

It isn’t a long-lived plant. It typically dies out in a few years, eliminating the need to transplant.

In fact, the process may kill the plant. While it’s not a picky plant, it may not survive getting transplanted.

Maintenance and Grooming

Remove withered leaves to prevent plant diseases from spreading to the rest of the plant.

Removing the older flower before they produce seed pods can prolong the bloom.

How to Propagate Papaver Nudicaule

Propagate the plant using Iceland poppy seeds in the fall or spring. It’s a self-sowing plant and tends to die out after a couple of seasons. Sowing the seeds allows for continual growth.

Harvest the seeds from the pods when the capsules turn dark brown and start to open. If sown in the fall, the poppies should bloom next summer.

To sow the seeds in a flower bed, simply sprinkle them over the soil and cover with a thin layer of sand.

If growing the plants in containers, sow the seeds in a plant starter tray. After the seedlings appear, thin them out, leaving two to three small seedlings per tray.

When grown from a seed packet, the plants will likely produce red, yellow, and orange blooms.

The plants can be separated by color, making it easier to propagate specific colored varieties the following year.

Icelandic Poppies Pests or Diseases

The biggest threat to the plant is wet soil. Poppies don’t survive long in soil that is saturated with water. Ensure that well-drained soil is used.

Poppy blight is another threat to the health of this plant. It appears as a fungus on the bottoms of the leaves and on the stems.

Treat the whitish-gray deposits with fungicide and trim away any darkened parts.

Suggested Ways To Use Iceland Papaver Plants

Iceland poppies are almost always grown outdoors in full sun, where it’s easier to show off the brightly colored Icelandic flowers that last through a large portion of the year.

The plant also grows well in poor soil, providing more options for placement around the yard.

Grow the plant in rock gardens, near paths, or on a patio.

Some gardeners are growing Iceland in their garden to create beautiful cut flowers.

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