Transplanting Oriental Poppies

Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale)

The big, bright flowers of oriental poppy are a garden classic.



Oriental poppies (Papaver orientale)—the type with large, showy spring flowers—are best transplanted in late summer, when they are not actively growing. They have long tap roots that can make moving them a little challenging. The larger the plant, the longer the taproot, so you may have the best success with a smaller plant.
Dig a large circle around the plant with a sharp shovel. Dig deep down to get under the tap root, then lift up carefully. Try not to break the roots.

Be careful that the roots do not dry out while they are out of the ground. If you’re traveling with the plant (for instance, transplanting it from a friend’s garden to your own), keep the roots in a pot of damp soil or in a plastic bag with some water in it.

Dig a hole as deep as the root system and twice as wide. Put the plant in so that the top of the roots are level with the top of the soil. Basically you want it to sit just as it was sitting in its old hole. Fill back in with soil. Keep the soil moist for the first month or so. Once established the poppy should need watering only when the weather is hot and dry.

From early fall to early winter, you can also propagate oriental poppies by taking root cuttings. Several other perennials can also be increased by root cuttings.

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8 thoughts on “Transplanting Oriental Poppies

  1. Drainage is what makes Oriental Poppies happy, what ever you do the roots, but there are major differences between the species. The big showy ones are tap rooted so the offered instructions do apply. The ones that persist in heavier soils are turfers, sending runners through the top six inches of the soil to make smaller new crowns once they become established. My experience is that the turfers are best transplanted in the first few weeks after they start into growth. That happens twice a year: First, in the early spring, March or April here in northern Indiana, and again in September when tufts of fall foliage appear to take advantage of the milder weather and the thinning canopy overhead. I had several failures in trying to transplant them dormant before I tried the newly sprouted shoots approach.

    • Jonathan, thanks for the extra info. We think one of the best parts of our new site is the commenting function. We’d like to get gardeners trading advice and experiences. Thanks again for taking the time to chime in and share your knowledge of the two types of Oriental poppies.
      —Meghan Shinn, editor

  2. Print tiny – site slow – site clunky – email has tons of non-working links. You claim to have re-designed the website? What a joke. I am probably going to unsubscribe as this site is a waste of my time.

    • want to email the article? why not forward the original email and add a note about which article is important?
      print the article? highlight just what you want and then print
      print to small? change the resolution on your computer to 125% or more
      don’t know how to do these things? quit whining and get some instruction!

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for your comment and questions. You can e-mail or print the articles on this site. At the bottom of each article you’ll see a bar that says “Share.” (It is above this comment thread.) If you hold your mouse over the word Share, a box of options pops up. Among them is the option Print and several different ways to e-mail, including Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. I hope this helps.
      —Meghan Shinn, editor

  3. Oriental poppies are tough ones. I had trouble growing them until I took the suggestion of my mother. She adds orchid growing medium (the kind with bark and charcoal) to the soil to increase the drainage. Every nursery I talked to about how to have success with oriental poppies stressed the good drainage thing!

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