Californian poppies or eschscholtzia are among the most rewarding annuals you can grow, flowering for weeks on end from late spring. If you sow them now they will overwinter as seedlings, bursting into bloom as soon as daylight starts to stretch. Cheery and visually uplifting their glossy petals dazzle in full sun, set off against tufts of blue-green filigree foliage on 20-30cm (8in-1ft) plants to vibrant effect.
Drought resistant, they’ll grow on the poorest soil, producing a slender tap-root and fine roots that search out scarce moisture. For best results, site them in in full sun in sandy, well-drained soil. Don’t feed or they become too big, flopping over in wind or when they become top-heavy in flower. The flowers are short-lived, closing at night or on overcast days, but will produce a succession of bloom for weeks.
There are quite a few colour variants and mixtures with either single or double flowers and ruffled petals. Poppies look good with tropical plantings and are also useful container fillers, either on their own or edging with other ornamentals.
Eschscholtzia will self-seed, but aren’t’ a nuisance. You may get the odd seedling or two in subsequent years, but they’re always welcome.