Grow the Himalayan blue poppy

Grow the Himalayan blue poppy
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I think it’s hard to beat the ethereal beauty of the Himalayan blue poppy, or Meconopsis. It seems to be one of those flowers that anyone who comes across it in someone’s garden gets all excited about it, and is astounded at its beauty – it appears very similar to its red cousins, but in the most eye-catching of sea blues.

It’s funny how a different colour of a plant can transform people’s opinions! Just think of those frilly pink gladioli many gardener’s don’t like, but when it’s grown in a striking shade of magenta it’s a different story.

The only real difference between common red poppies and this gem is the length and shape of the stigma at the centre – it’s larger in Himalayan blues.

It’s a little trickier than red poppies or Californian poppies, which seem to pop up anywhere and everywhere. Everyone who has tried to grow a blue poppy says it is heartily worth it – but that they are often a little difficult to grow.

It’s very much a case of ‘right plant, right place’ – that ever-present gardener’s mantra, which means every plant will thrive wonderfully if you give it the right conditions to live in. Wonderfully, it finds Scotland is its favourite place to be, with its cool, temperate woodland-like climate – a breath of fresh air, considering many plants prefer the balmy south. They like dappled shade and a fresh, moist soil that is rich and well-drained. It may do to test your soil, as they prefer neutral to slightly acidic conditions.

For best results anywhere other than northern temperate climes, buy established plants of these blue poppies and give them a try. Put them in a mossy, moist, north-facing situation, mulch them with rich leaf mould in autumn, and you might have some success.

I must mention an unusual, cultivated form of the Himalayan blue, named ‘Hensol Violet’, which rivals it in wow factor – it’s petals are the most amazing purple colour, and it’s definitely on my wish list to grow!

There are various species of Meconopsis, in many different colours, and with different growing needs – the Welsh poppy for example, is perfectly happy in southern gardens and will spread about. And yet, there’s something about the elusive, beautiful Himalayan blue that makes it stand out

from the rest.

2 unusual ways with... patio pots

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1. Create a dripping alpine and succulent tray for an easy-grow unusual tabletop decoration.

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2. Anything can be a container! Fashion your old boots into fun plant holders.

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  • Karen writes for Garden News magazine which is packed full of tips, inspiration, plant and product news and great money-saving offers! On sale every Tuesday or subscribe and try your first 4 issues for just £1 – Call 080858 438884 and quote YFIG, or visit www.greatmagazines.co.uk/YFIG. T&Cs apply.

3 Recycle old teapots and get a colourful container for free.