HIMALAYAN BLUE POPPY - Meconopsis betonicifolia




The Himalayan Blue Poppy - Meconopsis betonicifolia is one of those plants that captures the imagination, but generally lets you down once you start trying to grow it yourself. The problem with this plant is that most people try and raise it under normal garden conditions, making no allowances to adjust the local environment so that it mimics its native conditions.

Originating from the lush, mountainous regions of south-eastern Tibet, this almost magical plant will require a cool, sheltered position in order to survive. However, the trick with this particular plant is to be able to provide it with an acidic, moist, yet free draining soil that won’t dry out – especially during the summer months.

Taking this into consideration, when introducing this plant to the garden, the ground will need to be dug over deeply, adding plenty of humus rich and ericaceous (lime-free) compost. Meconopsis also has high nutrient requirements so it’s worth mixing in some well-rotted farm manure as well as periodically feeding with a dose of balanced fertilizer as the plant becomes established. Try and avoid any competition from tree roots, and the area should be partially shaded – preferably from deciduous plants - so as to protect the plants from mid-day summer heat, but also allowing plenty of winter light.

In its native habitat the Himalayan poppy is the product of its environment which – outside of the harsh winter months - is permanently watered by the melting mountain snow. Although tolerant of cold temperatures, sharp frosts and heavy snowfalls, if they are over-wintered in wet, soggy conditions, especially around the crown of the plant, then the root system of this stunning plant will fail with no hope of new growth the following spring.

Even with the extra work involved in preparing for this unusual yet beautiful perennial, it’s well worth the effort for the reward of those captivating blossom. They first start to emerge in the spring, producing a rosette of light green, hydrophobic leaves. Then in late spring, they will end up a flower shoot sometimes several feet tall. This will produce one or more terminal flowers usually followed by further flowers lower down the stem. If you happen to live in an exposed area you would be wise to employ some kind of plant support as unless they are surrounded by herbaceous plants of a similar height they are inclined to flop over in windy conditions.

The flowers tend to nod downwards but some will face upright. Like hydrangeas the soil ph will affect the shade of blue that the flower will display, ranging from a clear pale sky blue through intense pure blue and even on to violet shades. Alkaline soils produce more violet shades even in cultivars which would otherwise be a pale blue. Once the flowers have finished you would be wise to collect the seed as soon as it has ripened for propagation later on. The stem will then begin to naturally die back leaving the rosette of foliage to remain over the rest of the summer which will spread into a clump over the following years. Unfortunately any weak plants which may have not produced offsets will die back completely, unable to re-grow the following year – a problem typical of poor growing conditions. Keep an eye out for this as this is the reason behind keeping the viable seed.

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9 comments:

indicaspecies said...

Hi,
I reached your webpage in search of the botanical name for the Himalayan Blue Poppy, Meconopsis. Thanks.

I like your blog. Do check out mine at your convenience, and particularly my post on a Day in the Valley:
http://indicaspecies.blogspot.com/2009/06/valley-of-flowers-day-in-valley.html

Cheers!

Articgardener said...

Hi, I live in Big Lake, Alaska and the Himalayan Blue Poppy is by far my prized pride and joy of my garden! My blue poppy garden is located near the entrance to my home, southern exposure, dappled shade, deep rich organic soil, coffee grounds, osmocote in Spring and misting of water daily provides a stunning display of blue in late July through mid August! With winter temperatures as low as -50F this species returns year after year and grows like a weed!

Dr. Asim Mitra. Kolkata. India said...

The botanical name of true Himalayan Blue poppy is Meconopsis aculeata. Every bue coloured himalayan poppy is not Himalayan Blue poppy.

viagra online said...

What is the name that is known to this flower normally ... Himalayan Blue Poppy?

The Garden On Loch Ness said...

Great photo and information, our meconopsis have started flowering early this year, they must like the mild spring.

MNgardener said...

I purchased some Meconopsis Betonifolia seeds. The instructions say to fold the seeds inside a towel and put them in a baggie for 4 weeks. Germination You are supposed to put the seeds in peat pots and keep damp. MY PROBLEM: The seeds have been in the fridge for 4 weeks, so now ready for the peat pots. When I put the seeds in the fridge, I didn't realize that I would be out of the country for 4 weeks during the 3-month germination phase. Can I keep the seeds in the fridge for an extra month and a half, or do I need to find someone to babysit the seeds while I'm gone? Thank you! I saw these astonishing, beautiful flowers in Scotland last year & hope that I can get them to grow in my yard.

Anonymous said...

The Himalayan Poppy has grown easily in my flower border in Scotland for many years and have been divided into several clumps. In recent years, however, the colour has now tended towards violet at first turning to blue later. I have not added any lime, unless the liquid feed has contained this. I also find the leaves are dying off after flowering, so I suppose I should be watering them more freely.

Anonymous said...

The Himalayan Poppy has grown easily in my flower border in Scotland for many years and have been divided into several clumps. In recent years, however, the colour has now tended towards violet at first turning to blue later. I have not added any lime, unless the liquid feed has contained this. I also find the leaves are dying off after flowering, so I suppose I should be watering them more freely.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm a novice and I'm going to attempt to grow these himalayan poppies--Live in Seward Alaska and we are experiencing the latest spring summer(we really only have two seasons)and snow is still on the ground in places--I'm craving color and a hearty flower--wish me luck. Cathielynn