They are also called Eschscholzia californica. Named after Dr Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz, the Russian explorer who discovered it.
The poppies are free branching poppies with finely divided leaves of bluish-green. Their blossoms are single, with satin-soft petals of about 2-3 inches that are shaped like tiny cups and are long lasting. They always close at night, opening again in the morning with a blaze of colors.
Their showy little blossoms vary from pale yellow to deep orange or bronze, and even rose colors. Depending on their variety, they can have double or semi-double blossoms, with petals of darker shades at their edges.
Research shows that the California Poppy had been first depicted more than 70 years earlier, and that it had a horticultural history of approximately 64 years. More than a hundred years ago on December 12, 1890, the California State Floral Society cast their votes to designate an official flower for California. Of the three flowers to be voted upon included the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), the Mariposa lily (Calochortus), and the Matilija poppy (Romneya coulteri), the California Poppy won the esteemed title of “Official California State Flower” by an overwhelming landslide.
Poppies have long been a favorite of gardeners for planting in rock gardens and for brightening up splashy borders. They are also fantastic flowers for planting in containers, such as a large wooden half barrel or a galvanized tub. Plant several poppies as your tall center flowers, then add colorful snapdragons or blue salvia, candytuft, pansies, and sweet alyssum or Dusty Miller to fill out your container. These are sure to provide you with a summer bouquet until late fall.
Most poppies are very easy to grow, especially annuals such as the California or the Shirley. Soil preparation is minimal, and usually requires just a bit of raking of your seed bed. Keep your soil moist after planting and the seeds will germinate readily in about a week. Poppies demand good drainage for proper growth.
Since almost all poppies are self-sowing if allowed to go to seed, you could be lucky enough to only have to plant them once. It is possible to transplant any small volunteers by digging them up when they’re quite small. Care should be taken to not injure their roots when moving them, and they should be spaced at least 12 inches apart when transplanting.
The native California poppy isn’t the greatest choice for your garden beds unless you are willing to deadhead its spent flowers regularly. Otherwise, they will go to seed and turn brown–not a pretty sight when in your flower beds. If you like the native poppy, however, it is an excellent choice for growing along a long driveway, a hillside location, or in a country garden setting.
Seeds should be broadcast in the fall or early spring in well-drained sandy soil that has been well spaded or raked. Also, gardeners should choose a sunny location, as they prefer full sun. Since California poppies don’t transplant very well, it’s best to plant them where you want them to be long-term. After planting, the soil should be kept moist until the seeds have germinated. This species does well in all zones, and although it is considered a perennial, it is grown as an annual in colder zones.
Source: Garden Guides