The opium poppy, known by the scientific name of Papaver somniferum, belongs to the family of Papaveraceae; it is an herbaceous plant that produces a real flower with very large petals and protects its seed, thus falling into the category of Angiosperm. This kind of annual plant is chosen by passionate gardeners as well as by inexperienced ones thanks to its peculiar simplicity of cultivation and finding. In fact, the seeds can be purchased almost anywhere.
As far as the watering is concerned, it is good that the poppy is given abundantly the water of nourishment at regular intervals; once a week it is more than sufficient, always checking that the soil afterwards remains dry and that the dangerous, but fatal, stagnation of water in the pot does not form.
The secrets of cultivating it
Cultivation of the opium poppy, a little like all the herbaceous plants belonging to the scattered Papaveraceae family, is also quite simple. They do require less attention than many other plants, but this does not mean that there are not some best practices to follow faithfully to ensure the lush development of this medicinal plant.
First, it is better to sow at the beginning of the autumn or spring season; opium poppy seeds need cold or cool temperatures, far from the winter frosts that would only kill them. As for the soil, it must be ensured that it has excellent draining properties, depending on which it is advisable to add sand to the same: an excess of soil would inhibit not only the passage of water, but also the sun’s rays.
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Period and tools for fertilization
Choosing the right fertilizer is rather important for the survival of the opium poppy. It is a good idea to choose a natural fertilizer made from organic material. During the winter months the Papaver somniferum needs a lot of fertilizer, which must be administered regularly once a month diluted with nutrient water.
Once the spring season has arrived, it is advisable to repeat the fertilization operations using, in this case, an ad hoc liquid fertilizer; it is advisable to be guided, in the choice of the latter, by an expert nurseryman or to go to specialized shops. The fertilizer must be rich in macro nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, iron, nitrogen and phosphorus. While these nutrients fit roughly into all fertilizers, they should not be missing for the proper care of the plant.
Opium poppy: Exposure and possible diseases
Opium poppies do not require specific climatic conditions, as they are weeds that can grow spontaneously in a wide variety of soils. However, the optimal exposure that ensures the good survival of the plant provides good exposure to sunlight, although balanced by the ability to store the plant in a semi-shaded area; the important thing is that the poppy receives sunlight for 6 hours and that the climatic conditions are ventilated with temperatures between 0 and 20 ° C.
Being a rustic and rather old herbaceous plant, the years of adaptation have made it rather resistant to natural adversities. Several diseases can arise due to poor cultivation, such as incorrect irrigation or excessive exposure to sunlight. The characteristic disease to which the papaver sumniferum is exposed is powdery mildew or white mal, a fungal disease that manifests itself through a whitish substance that attacks the plant.
As a remedy you can either remove and burn the stems involved or use products based on sulfate and copper.