Papaver orientale plena ‘May Queen’
MAY QUEEN DOUBLE ORIENTAL POPPY
Huge double soft orange flowers from silvery buds, make Papaver orientale plena ‘May Queen’ both stunning and unusual.
Flowers are all ruffled, frilled and pleated, like silk skirts that have had a “permanent pleat perm”.
Huge double soft orange flowers
‘May Queen’ is vigorous and free flowering.
Plus one of the first of the oriental poppies to flower in early summer.
Extended season of interest
However the season of interest extends well beyond the spectacular flowers on Papaver orientale ‘May Queen’.
You will find the plump buds are a real design feature before blooming, and fascinating to watch as the silken petals peep, then slowly unfurl.
Architectural seed pods, which are greatly valued by floral artists, come after the stunning flowers.
Plus the foliage clump is neat, symmetrical and low growing. So the plant is a textural asset to the garden, even when not in flower.
Hardy despite their exotic beauty
Oriental Poppies are not particularly thirsty plants despite their exotic looks, and huge flower production.
They are also fully frost hardy, and will tolerate a range of soils.
Good garden companions
Oriental Poppies are excellent to plant with autumn stunners like Perovskia, Echinacea or Rudbeckia.
Then the one spot in the garden provides spectacular flowering over a long summer and autumn season.
Our poppy foliage is just a neat, low clump in autumn, while the companions strut their colourful flower stuff.
Hardy, resilient & long lived
Oriental Poppies are hardy, resilient, and long lived perennials.
But do not panic if your Oriental Poppies disappear underground in the hottest part of summer.
This summer dormancy is perfectly normal as proof against heat, and they will be back with an even bigger and better clump at the start of autumn.
Once established in their spot, Oriental Poppies are hardy, resilient, and very long lived clumps.
They can tolerate soils with low fertility.
Though be generous with fertilizing and compost, as to produce even more massive blooms – they do need fuel.
Sumptuous cut flowers
Even one Oriental Poppy in a vase is a show stopper. While several will stop you in your tracks.
Cut them either early in the morning, or at evening, just as the buds are about to open.
They will last even longer if you remove the outer green calyx from around the unfurling petals.
SEED SOWING ADVICE: QUICK & EASY
Sow seeds at any time in punnets indoors / or sow in garden in autumn or spring.
Sow seed thinly onto the surface of good quality seed raising mix and lightly sprinkle with mix or river sand. Perennial poppies need light to germinate (annual poppies need the dark).
Keep moist but not wet in a well-lit position.
Temperatures of 16-20°C are optimum for rapid germination.
Seed germinates in 10-30 days approx.
SEED COUNT: 200 seeds per pack approx.
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count, and give a generous serve).
GROWING: Papaver orientale plena ‘May Queen’
– Height with flowers: 75cm. approx.
– Width: 45cm. approx.
– Growth: Stout perennial clump which can go summer dormant in high heat.
Foliage is a low growing neat, symmetrical clump of large decorative leaves.
Where to plant
– Position: Full Sun to Part Shade. Full Sun in cold districts, but in hotter positions they also happily enjoy some hours of shade, if it is well lit. Oriental Poppies are heat tolerant, as they will have a short summer dormancy if it turns very hot. (Important not think they have died and dig them out if they have a little rest over the hottest period – this is perfectly normal. They will return from underground as autumn begins). Because they are native to places with very hot summers, they have adapted to cope with it by going dormant when the heat climbs too far. Also because of their native range, they relish a very cold or frosty winter snap.
Soil & Frost hardy
– Soil: Must have good drainage, as the strong fleshy roots will rot in soggy soil. Can thrive in all soil types from sandy through average garden loam to clay based soils. Clay based soils should be opened up, and sandy or rocky soils should have organic matter added. They grow happily in soils with a pH on either the acid or alkaline lime side of neutral
– Frost: Fully frost hardy, even in hard frosts to well below -10C. They shrug off frosts.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Bees are as besotted by the huge flowers as we are. Bees gather so much pollen, they can hardly fly with their bulging pollen sacks. Interestingly the pollen is black or purple.
Butterflies are also fed by the flowers.
If you leave the decorative seed heads to dry on the plant, the small seed eating birds will thank you for such well stocked larders. Each pod produces countless seeds. Do not worry, Oriental Poppies are in no way invasive.
– Care: Low maintenance. with little work to do other than feeding.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Fortunately rabbits and deer don’t seem to like their hairy, whiskery leaves. Just as well, as a gardener could turn very nasty if they ate my treasured Oriental Poppies.
– Fragrance: Sadly none, but the blooms are so dazzling, you don’t notice the lack of scent.
– Origin: Native to Turkey, Armenia and Iran where they grow on rocky slopes, hence their love of good drainage.