According to Christopher Grey-Wilson, in his book, Poppies, the name may orginate from the sound made by chewing the seeds, or from the Celtic word papa, a liquid food for infants, as poppy juice was given to crying babies to help them sleep.
There are about 50 botanical species, which grow wild over most of the world except the tropics, but there are many more named varieties in cultivation – the Royal Horticultural Society’s Plant Finder lists 374 kinds of poppy available to gardeners in this country.
They include perennials (plants that live for many years) biennials (plants that grow one year and flower the next, sometimes surviving a few years as short-lived perennials) and annuals (which grow and flower in the same season before dying).
Buy potted plants or grow from seed
Perennial poppies are best bought as named varieties in pots.
Biennials are sometimes sold in much the same way as bedding plants but are easy to grow from seed and annual poppies, are far better grown from seed.
Poppies thrive in
Well-drained soil and full sun.
Individual flowers normally only last for a day or so but each plant produces an awful lot of them over quite a long season.
Deadheading would take ages but by leaving the plants to set seed you’ll enjoy the fat seed-heads that follow on from them.