How to Grow Romneya – Matilija Poppy

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Romneya–commonly called Matilija poppy–is a perennial sub-shrub that bears showy white flowers with yellow centers that look like eggs cooking sunny-side-up.

Romneya has large pinnatifid, irregularly lobed gray-green leaves. Romneya prefers regular water, but once established, it will tolerate drought. Romneya blooms from late spring into summer; with regular water, Romneya will bloom into autumn.

Romneya spreads via rhizomes so it should be planted where it will not infringe on other plants. Romneya is a good choice for western native gardens and borders in gardens where winters are mild.

Romneya is a genus of two species. Romneya is native to chaparral and sage scrub in Southern California and New Mexico.

White Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri
White Matilija poppy, Romneya coulteri

Get to know Romneya

  • Plant type: Perennial subshrub, spreads via rhizomes
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 8-10
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -10°F (-23°C)
  • Height and width: 3 to 8 feet (1-2.5m) tall and wide
  • Foliage: Ovate to rounded glaucous gray-green pinnatifid leaves to 5 inches long
  • Flowers: Six-petaled poppy-like white flowers with yellow stamens
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Shrub or perennial borders, native gardens
  • Common name: Matiija poppy, tree poppy, fried egg plant
  • Botanical name: Romenya
  • Family name: Papaveraceae
  • Origin: Chaparral in Southern California and New Mexico

Where to plant Romneya

  • Plant Romneya in full sun.
  • Grow Romneya in average to humus-rich, well-drained soil.
  • Plant Romneya where it is sheltered from strong and cold winds.

Romneya uses and companions

  • Grow Romneya in a border or against a sunny wall.
  • Good garden companions for Romneya include Artemisia, Baptisia australis, Centranthus rubber, Salvia, ornamental grasses.

When to plant Romneya

  • Set container-grown Romneya in the garden in spring.

Planting and spacing Romneya

  • Space Romney 3 to 8 feet (1-2.5m) apart.
  • Plant Romneya where it will not be disturbed; it does not like transplanting.

How to water and feed Romneya

  • Give Romneya regular water; the soil should be just most, but not wet. Mauture plants can withstand drought.
  • Fertilize Romneya with an all-purpose, slow-release, organic fertilizer in spring.

Romneya care

  • Protect Romneya from cold or strong winds.
  • Where Romney is marginally hardy, plant it against a warm, sunny wall.
  • Give Romneya a deep winter mulch.
  • Romenya can be cut back to the base in winter.

Romneya pests and diseases

  • Romenya can be attacked by caterpillars.
  • Verticillium wilt can affect Romneya.
Tree poppy or Matilija poppy flowers, Romneya coulteri
Tree poppy or Matilija poppy flowers, Romneya coulteri

Romneya propagation

  • Sow seed in warm soil in spring.
  • Romneya needs smoke or fire to germinate in the wild. Sow seeds in a flat then burn pine needles on top, then water. Alternatively, soak the seeds in smoke water before planting; they will germinate quickly.
  • Dig up rooted shoots and pot them until they form a good root system. Take root basal cuttings in spring.

Romneya varieties to grow

  • Romney coulteri. Matilija poppy. Upright, deciduous subshrub grow 3 to 8 feet tall and wide; ovate to rounded pinnatifid glaucous, gray-green leaves to 5 inches long; bears solitary, shallowly cup-shaped white flowers to 5 inches across with prominent yellow stamens,

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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