Iceland Poppy Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Papaver Nudicaule”

Read our guide to Iceland Poppies for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for "Papaver Nudicaule"

Are you looking for some bright and cheerful colorful flowers for your garden? Iceland Poppies are the answer.

Papaver Nudicaule, or commonly known as Iceland Poppy, is a lovely perennial that you’ll simply love to have in your outdoor space. The vivid colours of Iceland Poppies, the feathery foliage, and the hairy and fuzzy flower stems give these plants a fantastic, unique appearance.

It is believed that Iceland Poppy has been around in people’s gardens since the late 18th century and early 19th century. Over time, this flower has adapted to a lot of threats, becoming resistant to a number of things. This is one of the reasons why Iceland Poppy is really easy to care for.

Ready to learn more about growing and caring for Iceland Poppy? Keep reading below!

About Iceland Poppy

  • The botanical name of Iceland Poppy is Papaver Nudicaule. This flower is part of the Papaveraceae family.
  • Despite having the term “Iceland” in its name, the Iceland Poppy is not native to Iceland. It is native to the subpolar regions of northern Europe and North America.
  • Iceland Poppies are perfect for the spring beds in your garden. What’s more, unlike other poppies, Iceland Poppies are also ideal as cut flowers. So, you can also use them in your floral arrangements or bring them inside your home.
  • When grown outdoors, Iceland Poppy acts as a magnet for birds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. So, your garden will be filled with beautiful colours and life. And, your other plants will benefit too.
  • Iceland Poppies are sun-loving flowers. They prefer to grow in gardens where they get plenty of sunshine. However, if necessary, these versatile plants can also adapt to partial shade. But, if you want to see your Iceland Poppies thrive, it’s best to choose a sunny spot in your outdoor space for them.
  • In terms of soil, Iceland Poppies prefer to grow in rich and well-draining soil. Protect them from soggy soil because it is the ideal environment for fungi that can damage or even kill your flowers.
  • Overwatering is the number one enemy of Iceland Poppies. These flowers are susceptible to blight and fungus. So, make sure that you water them often enough for them to not get thirsty but not too often to drown them.
  • These perennials generally enjoy cooler temperatures that stay below 70°F (21°C). In fact, as temperatures start to rise, the bloom production and the quality of the flowers begin to decline.
  • Blight is one of the most common threats to Iceland Poppy flowers. You can recognize it by its whitish-grey fungus appearance. It typically appears on the stems and the bottoms of the leaves. To protect your Iceland Poppies from being killed by this common disease, use fungicide and make sure to trim away any affected parts of the plant quickly.
  • Generally, poppy plants have edible seeds. However, Iceland Poppies are not part of these safe species. All parts of Iceland Poppies are considered toxic to both humans and even more so to pets. Iceland Poppies contain poisonous alkaloids, which makes them highly toxic if ingested. Make sure to plant your Iceland Poppies out of your kids’ and pets’ reach.
  • The taste of Iceland Poppy is very bitter, so it’s unlikely that humans will knowingly consume them. However, kids or pets might be tempted to try them. Symptoms of poisoning with Iceland Poppy include dilated or pinpoint pupils, weakness, trembling, slowed respiratory rate, slowed heart rate, and even coma.
Iceland Poppies
Iceland Poppies

Iceland Poppy Features: An Overview

  • This short-lived perennial features four papery petals of various colours, tall and leafless stems, and foliage that has a feathery appearance.
  • The stems of the Iceland Poppy flower also have a hairy and wiry appearance, and they can be up to 24 inches long.
  • Iceland Poppies come in a variety of colours, including red, pink, orange, yellow, and even white. So, expect your outdoor space to get filled with vivid colours.
  • When reaching mature size, Iceland Poppy can grow to 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) tall and 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) wide or spread.
  • The blooming time of this perennial is late spring to early summer.
  • The flowers produced by Iceland Poppies are not fragrant.

Growing Iceland Poppy

Caring for Iceland Poppies is really easy. These plants are very resistant to a number of things, and they don’t have a lot of problems that may damage them. Despite not being native to Iceland, these flowers are cold-hardy. They are also drought-resistant. Plus, Iceland Poppies are also deer-resistant flowers. So, very few things can kill them.

As long as you provide them with all their ideal growing conditions, your Iceland Poppies will thrive. So, don’t worry! These flowers won’t give you a hard time.

First of all, you need to consider the light preferences of these flowers. Iceland Poppies are sun-loving flowers and require a lot of light to grow healthy and bloom. It’s best to choose an area where the flowers will get full sun for at least a few hours daily. Yet, a place where they get partial shade will also work if you have no other option.

Secondly, your Iceland Poppies will also appreciate if you help them with some feeding. A consistent and frequent fertilizing schedule will help your Iceland Poppies grow healthy and bloom in late spring. We recommend using a well-rounded, balanced fertilizer to provide your flowers with the nutrients they need to thrive. A 20-20-20 should be just right to keep your Iceland Poppies healthy and happy.

Pruning is also a good idea to help your Iceland Poppies thrive. More precisely, you should deadhead and remove old blooms to encourage continuous blooming in the right season.

Planting Iceland Poppy

When it comes to planting Iceland Poppies in your outdoor space, you have two options to grow them from seeds.

The first method involves planting the seeds directly into the ground in your garden. However, this method has some risks as it is less effective than starting your flowers in containers. To plant the seeds in your garden, you should:

  1. Wait for the seeds to turn from green to brown and for the crowns to begin to open. Once that happens, you can pick the seeds from the pods.
  2. Plant the seeds directly into the ground in your outdoor space in fall or the early spring. The difference between the two seasons is that they will stay dormant during the cold season if you plant the seeds during the fall. As spring arrives, they will start to germinate and grow into plants. If you plant them in spring, you’ll get the same results a lot earlier.

The second method involves planting the seeds in containers first. To do that, you should:

  1. Place the seeds on top of the soil in the container.
  2. Lightly cover the seeds with dirt, vermiculite, or sand. Don’t cover them completely!
  3. Keep the soil moist at all times. Do not keep the soil soggy.
  4. When you notice the seedlings making their appearance, it is time to move the containers into a cooler area where they will get plenty of sunlight.
  5. Transplant the grown flowers into the ground in your garden. Make sure to be very delicate because Iceland Poppies have a very sensible root system.

When planting your Iceland Poppies, make sure to also consider that they need:

  • Rich, well-draining soil
  • Plenty of sunlight

Iceland Poppy Seeds Flower Mix, From Amazon

Watering Iceland Poppy

Overwatering your Iceland Poppies is the sure way to kill them!

Iceland Poppies are very sensitive to fungus diseases which typically appear when the plants are kept in soggy soil. So, make sure that the soil of your flowers is never soggy. In fact, Iceland Poppies are drought-tolerant, which means that they will still survive even if they get a bit thirsty. So, it’s better to underwater your Iceland Poppies than to overwater them.

Iceland Poppies do, however, prefer to have a consistent watering schedule. But, to make sure that you don’t overwater them, adapt the watering schedule to all other conditions that may dry the soil faster or slower. For example, as the temperatures start to rise during the hot season, you may have to water your flowers more often than you do in early spring when temperatures are still lower.

The best way to avoid overwatering your Iceland Poppies is to only water them once the top few inches of the soil dry out.

Propagating Iceland Poppy

If you want to have more Iceland Poppies in your garden, the only thing you need to do is to propagate them using the seeds of the mature plants you already have in your outdoor space.

To do so, follow the steps of the two methods of planting seeds, be it directly in your garden or in containers.

Keep in mind to only collect the seeds from your mature Iceland Poppies after the crowns have opened and the seeds have changed their colour to brown.

In Conclusion

Having Iceland Poppies in your garden is an absolute joy. These flowers will colour your garden in plenty of lovely and vivid shades. They will also attract pollinators and other fascinating winged beauties to your outdoor space. All they ask for in return is a little care from your side.

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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