The How to Grow It Project

How to Grow Portage Poppy

keywords: howtogrow Portage Poppy, alias Dwarf Pink Poppy, alias papaver alboroseum (or alborosium)

seedsfrom: Seeds of Alaska, P.O. Box 3127, Kenai, Alaska 99611 location: Chicago, Illinois, Zone5

While in Alaska I picked up these seeds. The plant is native to Alaska and some Russian islands in the Pacific. I once found a site on the net that listed the plant as rare in the wild in Alaska. This is what the back of the packet says about the plant:

Rare and wonderful, its pale pink blossoms stand only two inches above nearly recumbent leaves. Portage poppy is one of our easiest wildflowers to grow from seed. In the garden it will be considerably larger than in the wild, up to six inches tall and covered with blossoms. It is the pride and joy of the BEGICH BOGGS VISITOR CENTER at Portage, Alaska, one of the few places in the world where this delightful little poppy can be found growing wild. Portage poppy is a very good rock garden subject for full sun and medium moist soil. Start the seed in a flat and transplant to a permanent location after several true leaves form. Portage poppy is a perennial but will bloom abundantly the first year.

I planted the seeds last year in several batches during our terribly hot summer. Do as they say: fill a pot with some soil, press it down, sprinkle the seeds on top and then sprinkle a light coating of soil on top of this. It took about two weeks for them to start sprouting. Water from the bottom or mist the top to keep them moist. I kept the pots mostly in the shade. I tried starting some in Park's Starts cylinders indoors in January but nothing came up, maybe the seeds don't last long or maybe conditions were not exactly right. Some of the summer batches batches did not come up apparently because it was too hot. When I tried transferring some to the garden during the heat they lingered for a while and then died. When I transfered them in cold weather it went fine. The leaves turned partly red during the winter. I had one clump of 9 small plants in the garden during the winter and I separated them in the spring. Unfortunately they are not growing fast and none of them bloomed the first year (started in late June). Some of them reached 5 inches high. 23 out of 24 plants died during the summer possibly because of the heat (and Chicago was only average this summer!). Flowers last about 3 days.

If you have any questions or comments, write me.

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