We’ve had 50-60 red poppies in the garden for the last 30 years. Last spring (2014) I noticed (for the first time ever) that many of the flower buds & stems turned dark & withered up before they were fully formed (see pic attached).
This spring I only got 12 poppies and 6 of them turned dark & withered again. I’m worried now that I’ve lost them all and future plants? :(
Nothing has changed in the garden (i.e. light etc)
Your garden must have looked amazing with all those poppies! Given that conditions haven’t changed and your only seeing this blackening on the buds, I believe it may just be connected to periods of extended wet weather or possibility over watering in the garden.
The other possibilities are fungal or bacterial in nature. Possibly bacterial blight, dampening off or root rot.
Try and make sure your poppies have plenty of air flow, remove dead plant material and water underneath your flowers if possible. It may also be advantageous to get your soil test to rule out any nutrient deficiencies that could be causing the die back. Here is a list of accredited soil testing facilities.
Here is a link for further reading: