Plant questions and answers! This week: Can California poppies stand a little shade? (Ask your plant or gardening question.)
While I haven’t specifically tried to grow California Poppies in partial shade, I think that you could probably get away with it. California poppies tend to be pretty tenacious and will grow in some of the poorest soils I’ve ever seen, so I wouldn’t expect a little shade to stop them!
While full shade might be a problem, partial shade would likely be accepted. I’d expect a partially-shaded Cal Poppy to grow a bit ganglier and have fewer and smaller blossoms then their fully-sunned neighbors.
What is considered partial sun? I suppose that it could be interpreted differently depending on the person and the location, but I would consider partial sun to be 5 or 6 hours. If they had to choose, poppies would probably prefer afternoon sun (which is hotter and brighter) to morning sun (which is cooler and less focused).
What about watering a shaded poppy? Well honestly, California poppies don’t tend to need much irrigation at all in most places. For very dry climates (southern California, semi-desert climates) poppies might appreciate an occasional watering, but for poppies in cooler climates that get some summertime moisture, you may not have to water them at all. Shaded poppies even less so.
As a side note, if you like California poppies, you might also like to try Icelandic poppies, too. They come in a variety of shades and they are nearly as hardy as California poppies. If you’re growing a low-maintenance flower garden, you might also want to try Cornflower (also known as Bachelor’s Button) or Shasta Daisy, which are great contrasting companion plants for California poppies.