The Himalayan Blue Poppy, Meconopsis 'Lingholm'

The Himalayan blue poppy, Meconopsis 'Lingholm' is a member of the Papaveraceae or Poppy family. It is native to the western Himalayan mountains, inclusive to Upper Burma, Tibet, and the Yunnan provinces of China.

Meconopsis is one of those elusive, yet most desired ornamentals in the gardening world. Many gardeners have tried to grow them only to fail, because their summers are too hot and/or dry. To understand why these plants are so unique, it helps to know the growing requirements of these plants. Meconopsis grows best in moist, well-drained, semi-woodland areas with acidic soils. They prefer cool and damp summers, like Scotland and the Himalayans. Here in the United States, the only places they can be grown successfully are in Alaska, coastal Washington and Oregon. They will die if temperatures are over 80F for a long period and actually prefer temperatures in the 50F-60F range. In climates where the winters are cold, they need the protection of snow to keep the crowns from freezing. In their native mountains, there is snow on the ground from October to April. They require a lot of moisture during the growing season and if the pH of the soil is too high they will lose their blue color and turn pinkish-purple. As you can see this plant is a challenge even for the best of gardeners. Here at the University greenhouses, where we have the technology to simulate the growing environment of the Himalayan summers, we still had to overcome a few obstacles while learning how to grow these fascinating wonders of the plant world.