Oriental poppies change in colour.

Hello! I wonder if anyone has any idea as to what has happened to my brilliant red oriental poppy? I've had this plant for over ten years now, and each year I look forward to seeing the brilliant pillar-box red papery flowers open. But I had quite a shock this year, as each flower that's opened is a startilng pure white colour with a dark purple spot in the usual place where the black spot is on the petals. Every one of the 20 or so flowers has been the same. That is except for one flower, which has remained a wonderful red colour. Has anyone else had this problem? And does anyone have any idea as to what happened to the poppy to cause it to change colour in such a dramatic way? Thanks. Gwyn 


  • CeresCeres Posts: 1,823
    It sounds as though your old plant has dropped seed and produced an offspring with a different flower colour.
  • heraldic.artistheraldic.artist Posts: 5
    edited June 2019
    That's what a friend said, but unfortunately it doesn't really explain how the one red flower (the original colour) is growing from the same plant as all the white ones! Thanks for your suggestion though.

    In my original post I forgot to mention that last year after the red flowers had finished, I split the poppy into 2, and replanted them. The white flowers are definitely coming from the original divided plants. And are not seedlings. 
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen SpainPosts: 2,712
    There are a few possibilities I could take a guess at...

    - It might have cross-fertilised with a neighbours plant, even of you can’t spot any in the immediate vicinity, as they are known to be pretty promiscuous.
    -It could be transplant shock (white hair!) as they apparently don’t like being divided or moved.
    - The moving/disturbing the soil has encouraged dropped seed to germinate - could have been lying dormant for years - and these have grown up through the plant. I think, like Ceres, the latter is the most likely. You wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell what is new growth from the old plant or what are new seedlings sprouting through the middle of it. As they don’t come true from seed, you have effectively got a new variety. Its rather lovely!

    Changing weather patterns can change flower colour from year to year or within the same season, but not that much, I don’t think...

  • heraldic.artistheraldic.artist Posts: 5
    edited June 2019
    Hi! You might have something there re: transplant shock.

     As I honestly can't believe that it's got anything to do with cross pollination and seedlings. Due to the fact that after each flower drops its petals, I cut down the unripe seed head along with the flower stem. I do this to specifically prevent the poppies from self seeding and taking over the garden. 
    Thanks so much for your kind suggestions! G. 
  • Muddle-UpMuddle-Up Posts: 14,553
    It would be interesting to take seed from the white 'rogue' (  which is lovely and looks very like 'Oriental Royal Wedding' )  and sow those next year (  under 'controlled conditions, of course 😉 ) and see what comes up....worth a try?
    Aberdeenshire, NE Scotland 🌞  
  • heraldic.artistheraldic.artist Posts: 5
    edited June 2019
    That's a very good idea! I wasn't too keen on the first few white poppies when they started to open. I thought about digging them up and either rehoming them with someone who liked them. But they have grown on me over the last few weeks. 

    I'll take your suggestion and experiment. I'll leave a head to ripen, and harvest the seed. It will indeed be interesting to see what happens!

    By the way, I've found out (on another gardening forum. They do exist, except it goes without saying that GW's is the best!) A gardener from Toronto Canada. Who seems to have the same problem. A suggestion from a botanist. Who mentioned that it is possible for the plant to 'colour revert' has something to do with genetics.

    Any one on here ever heard of such a thing? 
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 1,498
    Possibly a sport? I have a yellow chrysanthemum that occasionally produces a branch with pink flowers, and once a branch that had each flower half pink and half yellow.  Don't know whether it happens with poppies though.
  • heraldic.artistheraldic.artist Posts: 5
    edited June 2019
    Hi JennyJ! Now that IS interesting 🤔 I hadn't considered such a thing! I suppose that sports are, again a result of some kind of genetic mutation (as I'd read on a different forum) I can't help having an icy cold shiver run up & down my spine on typing the word SPORT! I was never any good with sports at school! 😅


    I think that this could be the reason for what's going on. As I've got a 'normal' red poppy growing from the same plant as all the white flowers. 

    By the way; I had mentioned that I had split the original red poppy in to two pieces last year. And the second plant is as healthy as the first and flowering profusely. Except that they are ALSO white. 

    I have decided to allow two seed heads to ripen (as I mentioned in an answer to a great suggestion from:- Muddle-Up. I usually remove the heads as soon as the petals have dropped) but I am going to keep the seed head of the one red poppy & a white one (of course keep them well labelled and SEPARATE) and see what kind of flowers the resulting plants will produce. I'll keep everyone posted on here who's been very kind and helpful with my 'problem poppy' 

    If anyone else has ANY suggestions please do feel free to share! 

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