There are numerous species of this Poppy-like perennial for the collector of unusual plants, but for the ordinary gardener there are just two – the Himalayan Blue Poppy and the Welsh Poppy. Both need humus-rich soil which must be kept moist in summer – add compost or peat at planting time and water copiously in dry weather. Provide some support if the site is exposed and don’t try to grow these plants if your ground becomes waterlogged in winter. The blooms of Meconopsis are shortlived and unfortunately so are the plants. Your stock will have to be regularly replenished from seed.

VARIETIES: The Himalayan Blue Poppy, once called M. baileyi but now referred to as M. betonicifolia, has been much admired since its introduction in the 1930s. The basic details are height 3 ft. Spacing 1.5 ft.

Flowering period: June-July. The sky blue flowers are 3 in. across but must not be allowed to appear too early – remove all buds which appear during the first year. The Welsh Poppy M. cambrica is smaller and less demanding – height 1 ft. Spacing 9 in.

Flowering period: June-September. The blooms are yellow or orange.

SITE AND SOIL: Requires lime-free, well-drained soil in light shade.

PROPAGATION: Sow seeds under glass in spring.

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