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The Matilija poppy is one of California's most striking perennial plants. Over time, it can grow into large sizes with seasonal heights of 6-10 ft. tall and spreading by underground stems 10-12 ft or more across. Blue-green leaves are cut into 3-5 deep lobes. Flowers are the largest of any California native plant. One cultivar, R. c. 'White Cloud' produces flowers that can reach 5-10 in. wide. They are comprised of large white crepe-like petals with a center containing numerous golden-yellow stamens that occur in late spring.

Matilija poppy grows best in loose and well-drained soils and with little need for summer water after their flowering cycle is complete. Young plants sometime struggle to become established; mature plants can be hard to contain. Foliage and stems die back by the end of summer and should be cut to the ground in late fall to accommodate new growth. The Matilija poppy is a high impact plant suited to slopes and background areas in California native and Mediterranean gardens where the floral display easily draws attention.

Water Needs

The Matilija poppy is a strong performer in Inland Empire gardens when planted in full sun and when sustained with very low amounts of summer water. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The low range of moisture is appropriate after the flowering cycle, as established plants need little summer irrigation.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Perennial, Native
Foliage Character: Drought deciduous
Habit: Upright, Spreading, Robust
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 6 ft. - 10 ft.
Width: 6 ft. - 10 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green, Blue green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Morning sun, Heat, Drought, All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Flowering accent plant, California native, Background plant


In small gardens, spent blooms can be individually removed if desired to extend the bloom period. Cut back all the way to the ground (appx. 6" high) every year between late Fall and early January (1,2). When planting, be gentile with the roots because they break easily (3). This plant wants to spread out. Be careful in small gardens. It may take a lot of work to keep it from taking over (S).



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