While poppies are usually native to warmer climates, they can still thrive in colder areas with some preparation when the seasons begin to change from warm to cool. There are a few steps that you can take to winterize your poppies to ensure that they will continue to bloom in the seasons to come.
Plant After the First Freeze
When you first decide to plant poppies in your garden, wait to put them into the ground until you have the first freeze. One of the reasons for this is that it will prevent extreme shock to the root system for the next freeze. The soil will still be a cool temperature, but will gradually introduce the extreme cold temperature to the flowers.
Insulate the Roots with Mulch
One way to ensure that the roots of the poppy do not freeze and rot is to insulate the roots around the flower with mulch. Taking a liberal amount of mulch, which can be purchased at any home garden center, and placing it around the flower bed will protect the roots during the coldest times of the year and even prevent the ground from freezing at those locations. Composted material also works well as an insulator.
Cut Back on the Watering
It is important to not completely ignore your poppies during the winter when it comes to water - they should have some water throughout the winter in order to survive. However, it is best to cut back on your watering routine during the colder months and only water if they seem like they are getting too dry. Excess watering will cause more damage when the ground begins to freeze, so it is important to be mindful of the amount of moisture in the ground before bringing out the hose.
Clean Everything Up
One of the biggest problems with flowers during the dormant months is excess debris on the ground when the first freeze comes around. Clean up all debris, dead leaves and weeds around the poppy flowerbed before it is too late. This will also help prevent rot in the roots, as well as unwanted pests that thrive in the damp, cold soil.
Use Mild Pesticides if Necessary
While it is not necessary to use pesticides when growing poppies in your garden, oftentimes it helps with the winterization process. A diluted concoction of an organic fertilizer sprayed conservatively around the poppy flowerbed before the major frosts come is one way of preventing any rotting or disease.
Keep Them Covered
In extremely cold climates, there are nettings available that act as a temporary greenhouse and prevent the ground from freezing to the point where it destroys roots and permanently causes the flowers to become dormant. You may also wish to transplant the flowers so that they are placed farther apart from each other to help protect the roots. Use stakes that will only be 2 or 3 inches taller than the flowers and place the netting carefully over them so that all of the bed is covered. Monitor their status throughout the cold season.