Transplanting a Poppy Plant to Parry Sound


We would like to transplant a poppy plant from our garden in Markham to a garden south of Parry Sound. We originally got the poppy from my father in laws property in Scarborough. It managed very well for 6 years in Markham. Our new home south of Parry Sound has a beautiful perennial garden with plenty of native plants. We don’t take possession of the new home until Oct 21 but are thinking that we would ask the current owners if we could plant it now. Can you advise us as to what we could do during the transplanting process to help it to thrive.


Good afternoon:  thank you for contacting Toronto MG with your inquiry about moving a cherished Oriental poppy to a new home near Parry Sound.

First, I should let you know that, as a policy, Toronto Master Gardeners do not recommend the transplantation of plants into other  plant zones.  The reason is that pests and diseases found  here in Toronto may not as yet be present further North.  With Climate Change we are seeing a rapid increase in the speed that pest migrate north.  However, as this plant has an important history in your family and because of the nature of the plant itself, we feel it is sufficiently safe  for you give it a try.

Secondly, here is the contact for the Georgian Bay Master Gardeners. Georgian Bay Master Gardeners.   They will be able to give you information about the nature of the soil and how to amend it for poppies, how and where to plant the poppy in your garden and other factors which may be important to help the transplant survive its first winter in the North.  Please check with them first to learn these things from MG who have experience gardening in the Perry Sound area.

Transplanting poppies is not easy because they have long tap roots.  But your plant seems to be able to handle the stress of at least one previous transplantation.  Here is a good site to review possible processes, but please keep our concerns about transplantation in mind as they are not discussed in this article.  Poppy Transplantation

Because of the risk of introducing pests from your garden in Markham into your garden in Perry Sound, it is very important that you wash off all soil on the root of the plant and use 100% bagged potting soil to transfer it to Parry Sound.

If the plant hasn’t deteriorated for the fall yet, you may wish to cut it down to about 10 in (25 cm) removing some but not all of the leaves to make it easier to handle.  Be sure the soil is relatively moist (water well the day before you dig it up).  Have ready a bucket of tepid water, a long planting pot (or even a plastic bag the size of a loaf of bread) and a pail filled with clean new potting soil that feel moist to the hand.  You may need to add some water to the soil but don’t make it muddy.  Place a few inches of soil in the bottom of the pot or bag.

With a sharp spade, and about 15 cm (6 in from the stem of the poppy), dig straight down about 30 cm (ft).   Dig around the plant with a slight rocking motion to dislodge the soil under the root.   Tug gently on the stem using a rocking circular motion to see if you can dislodge the tap root (think pulling out dandelions!).  When you feel you can safely pull the tap root out of the soil, do so carefully. Hold the plant upward with the tap root dangling into the pail of water and give the plant a shake.  The object is to remove all the garden soil from the tap root and the little feeder roots that spring from it.  You might use your hands to help disloge any soil.  When the root looks clean and still holding the plant upright, insert the end of the root into the bag or pot. It will not hurt the plant if the narrow end of the root folds around itself once or twice.   Slowly fill the bag or pot with the potting soil.  You may (will) need a second pair of hands in order to do all this carefully.  Lightly pack the soil down periodically as you progress with the soil to the same level as the plant was in the ground.  Keep moist at all times.  Plant in Perry Sound garden asap.

Generally poppies love full sun and well drained soil and they need and love cold winter climates.  So it may grow well in Parry Sound.  I wish you the best of luck.