Papaver alpinum

Common Name: poppy 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Papaveraceae
Native Range: Alps, Carpathians, Pyrenees
Zone: 4 to 6
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White, orange, yellow and salmon
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy


Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Performs well in average garden soils as long as drainage is good. Intolerant of drought. Also intolerant of overly moist soils, particularly if poorly drained. Mulch in winter until well established. This is a cold weather plant that needs a period of winter dormancy, and generally will not grow well south of USDA Zone 6. It is generally intolerant of the high summer heat and humidity in the deep South and often will not survive summer heat. This is a short-lived perennial that sometimes acts like a biennial or annual. It will abundantly self-seed in the garden in optimum growing conditions, however, and may remain in the garden from year to year by self-seeding. Plants grown from seed planted in the garden in spring may not flower the first summer (usually needs one cold winter period of dormancy before flowering will occur). Plants grown from seed planted in greenhouses in late winter and moved outside after last spring frost date usually produce flowers the first summer. Another option for bloom in the first summer is to purchase new plants each spring in starter packs.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Papaver alpinum, commonly known as alpine poppy, is a short-lived, dwarf poppy that typically grows in a clump to 8-10” tall. It is native to the Alps and Pyrenees Mountains of Europe. Solitary, crepe-papery, cup-shaped flowers (1 1/2” diameter) in a variety of colors including white, orange, yellow and salmon bloom late spring to mid-summer with possible rebloom in late summer. Flowers bloom on stems rising to 10” tall over a basal tuft of finely-divided, fern-like, gray-green leaves.

Genus name from Latin means poppy.

Specific epithet is in reference to the alpine native habitat of this species.


No serious insect or disease problems. Wet, poorly-drained soils can cause significant problems such as root rot, particularly in winter. Botrytis and powdery mildew may also occur.


Best in clumps or small groups in border fronts and rock gardens.