From My Garden to Yours
Red Iceland Poppy Yellow Iceland Poppy
Iceland Poppies - Papaver nudicaule

I don’t know of another poppy that likes cool weather as much as the Iceland Poppy. In mild climates, it’s a perfect chilly weather poppy and for cooler climates, it can be one of the early bloomers of spring. However, the name is deceiving; this poppy is not from Iceland! It’s native to subpolar regions of Europe, Asia and North America, and the mountains of Central Asia.

Iceland Poppies are gorgeous as a cut flower and I love to see them in bouquets. But when they look so beautiful in your yard and attract so many bees, it may be hard to cut them. At least it is for me.


Iceland poppies are the only annual poppy (Papaver) in my yard that I don’t grow from seed. Every fall, I plant a flat of six-packs to scatter around the garden. I recommend buying these smaller plants because I’ve found that larger plants don’t do as well. It’s best to transplant Iceland Poppies while they are as small as possible.

Planting them is little tricky because in my zone (9b), fall can be pretty hot and these poppies love, love cool weather. I wait until the weather is at least in the low 90s and even then, I have to protect them with shade while they are getting established or they will literally just burn up and become one with the soil.

Although it is a short-lived perennial, in my yard it’s definitely an annual. In warmer zones (like 9 and higher), the Iceland Poppy is ideally planted in the fall. It starts blooming fairly quickly in autumn and into the spring. However, it temporarily stops blooming when temperatures dip below freezing at night. There can be a little die back with the foliage initially and then it comes back full force. As soon as the weather gets hot (in May or June), the plants burns up in my yard.

In cooler zones (1-8), Iceland Poppies are best planted in the spring and will bloom all summer. In these zones, they are perennials.

Seeding & Germination

I’ve heard from other gardeners that Iceland Poppies reseed well. But that has not been my experience. In many years of growing them, I have gotten exactly one volunteer. And since I’m not trying to get seeds, I am draconian in deadheading each and every blossom to extend the blooming.

The optimum temperature for Iceland Poppy germination is 70F. The seeds don’t like to be covered, but do like darkness for germination. They are finicky about the right conditions for germination and that might be why a lot of gardeners like me buy plants instead of relying on seeding. If you have a method that works for you, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

Container Gardening

For those of you gardening on patios or terraces, Iceland Poppies are fantastic in containers. In warm weather (like 80F or higher), just give them partial sun. In cooler weather, they love the full sun.

Must haves for the Iceland Poppy

  • Fertilizer. I’ve definitely seen a big difference when they are planted in richer soil (created with sheet mulching).
  • Deadheading. To prolong blooming, be sure to cut down the spent blossoms.

Color Variations

White Iceland Poppy - Papaver nudicaule
Pink Iceland Poppy - Papaver nudicaule
Peach Iceland Poppy - Papaver nudicaule
Orange Iceland Poppy - Papaver nudicaule
Red Iceland Poppy - Papaver nudicaule
Yellow Orange Variegated Iceland Poppy - Papaver nudicaule
Yellow-Orange Variegated
Yellow Iceland Poppy - Papaver nudicaule
Latin Name
Papaver nudicaule
Bloom Season
Depends on zone

One Thought

  1. Rene on May 5, 2019

    Thank you! I have some of these growing now…
    I love Poppies..

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