Can’t Grow Tulips? Try Poppies Instead


Everyone likes to think that you can grow anything in Southern California. And it is true that we have a wonderful climate that is great for growing plants. But there are some plants that just don’t do well here, at least not in the coastal zone. It just doesn’t get cold enough for plants that depend on a good solid winter chill, tulips being one of those plants. Of course, you could dedicate sections of your fridge to forcing pots of tulips, but part of me feels like we should spend our energy embracing plants better suited to our climate.

Like poppies!

I noticed that the most recent Annie’s Annuals catalog had a bunch of drop dead gorgeous poppies. And their latest newsletter was dedicated to poppies, many of which look a heck of a lot like some of the more exquisite tulips. Some might even say that the poppies are prettier.


The tulip on the left is probably ‘Canasta,’ while the poppy on the right is ‘Danebrog.’ Obviously the colors are swapped. The tulip has red petals with white fringe, while the poppy has white petals with red fringe, but do you see the resemblance?!


Here’s another poppy that looks like it could pass for a tulip. I’m not sure what variety the tulip is (‘Negrita’ maybe?), but the poppy is ‘Lauren’s Grape.’ I know Botanical Interests sells Lauren’s Grape seed, and you can buy the plant from Annie’s Annuals.


‘Queen of the Night’ is a popular single black tulip, but isn’t the ‘Single Black’ poppy a tad bit more interesting?


Then there are poppies that, quite frankly, are among the most stunning flowers I’ve ever seen. Period. No need to compare ‘Naughty Nineties’ to a tulip. WOW!

I think my point in this post is that if you’re committed to growing plants that are appropriate for your zone, you can find substitutes for the plants you long for but don’t grow where you live. Once you stop focusing on trying to do something nature is telling you not to do, new possibilities open up.

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