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The fine bloom of the poppy catches the eye from afar in early summer, when the corn poppy stretches its bright red calyxes into the sun at the edges of paths and fields. There are also numerous colorful poppy varieties with filigree flowers for the garden, but you are not allowed to sow just any of them in your garden - opiate-containing species and varieties such as the opium or blue poppy (Papaver somniferum) are subject to the Narcotics Act in Germany and are therefore subject to approval .

Sowing opium poppies is only permitted in individual cases in Germany

Obtain permission to grow opium poppies

In principle, the illegal cultivation of opium poppies can be punished by law with prison sentences of up to five years and / or fines, although in practice this rarely happens - at least for isolated plants in the wild or in the garden. Nevertheless, you should obtain the necessary approval from the Federal Opium Agency before sowing to be on the safe side in case of doubt. However, the permit is subject to a fee (EUR 75 for private applicants in 2016) and is only granted for a limited time. The application can be filled out online.

Sow opium poppies and other poppy varieties

Once you have obtained the desired permit, you can sow the opium poppy seeds directly outdoors between March and April. The following instructions for sowing apply not only to the opium poppy, but also to many other poppy species such as corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas), Icelandic poppy (Papaver nudicaule) or Turkish poppy (Papaver orientale).

location and preparation

Poppies prefer a sunny, sheltered spot in the garden or in a planter on the balcony. Prepare the soil thoroughly before sowing by digging up the area and amending it with mature compost and sand if necessary. Any coarser crumbs of earth can be finely crumbled with a rake. The tillage should be done a few days before sowing and the area should then be left to rest for a while.

sow poppies

Now you can sow the two to three millimeter poppy seeds directly onto the field on a warm, dry day. Throw out the fine seeds, but then do not cover them or only cover them very thinly with soil - poppies belong to the light germinators. Keep the sowing area slightly moist and protect it from birds and bad weather such as heavy rain. The plants will germinate within eight to ten days.


You can also sow the seeds in September, which means that the flowers will flower particularly early the following year. For self-seeding, simply leave a few faded plants and their seed pods to mature.

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