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Master Gardener: Planting poppies

By in Press Enterprise on October 11, 2017

By Ottillia "Toots" Bier

Q: I enjoy having some garden color in winter and early spring so I usually plant begonias or impatiens. This year, I want the plantings to do double duty and provide stems that I can use as cut flowers too. What annuals do you suggest that I could plant soon and are easy to grow?

A: Your local nursery or garden center should have a good selection of fall-planted annuals for your choice. Some of the easiest to grow and most popular annuals suitable for cutting are Iceland poppies, Papaver nudicaule, stocks, Matthiola incana, and calendula, Calendula officinalis.

Iceland poppies, with their three-inch blossoms, come in a wide array of colors and have stems that can reach as tall as 24 inches. They are tolerant of most garden conditions. Because they do have tall slender stems, they should be grown in an area that does not receive strong winds. When cutting for flower arrangements, you must sear the cut end in a flame to stop the sap from flowing before putting the stem in water.

Stocks are wonderful in flower arrangements because they are so fragrant. The blossoms are produced in spikes that are held well above the foliage. The colors range from white and pale yellow through pink and purple. They are also tolerant of most garden conditions. There are several strains of stocks available that produce plants that grow from 12-15 inches for the shorter varieties, to 24-36 inches for the taller cultivars, so be sure to check the tags for a strain that grows to your desired height.

Calendulas, also called pot marigolds, have shorter stems but are an excellent choice for those who enjoy chrysanthemum-form flowers. The plants are one to two feet high, depending upon the cultivar selected, […]    

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