Red Poppy History
Red Poppy Capital of Texas Georgetown is the “Red Poppy Capital of Texas,” certified by local residents and the Texas Legislature. Red poppies have been a part of Georgetown’s landscape for over seventy years. Red poppies grow naturally in street and highway right-of-ways, in vacant lots and park lands, and in native and cultivated areas of our citizen’s yards. We understand that Georgetown is one of the few locations in the United States where red poppies reseed themselves from year to year. Each April as the poppies bloom, Georgetown celebrates with the annual Red Poppy Festival, held on the beautiful historic downtown Square. Festival activities include live entertainment, arts and crafts, food, a children’s center, a car show, and a parade/cruise. Call 1-800-436-8696 for dates and additional information.
History of Red Poppies Seeds from poppies in Europe were sent to Georgetown right after World War I. Henry Purl Compton (known as “Okra”) who served in the American Expeditionary Forces sent them to his mother. She planted them at her home which is now 507 East 7th Street. From there, they were spread (by birds, bees, and people!) down the river and over much of Old Town.
Preservation They are the species papaver rhoeas. They are the emblem of the American Legion made famous by John McCrea’s poem “In Flanders Fields.” Red Poppies are part of the heritage so important to Georgetown’s present and future. In the 1980’s organizations like the Red Poppy Garden Club, City of Georgetown, and the Williamson County Sun began the preservation and spread of poppies all over town by giving away and selling millions of seeds of related American species. The latter grow and reseed themselves as well as those from Flanders Fields. Only “specialists” can tell the difference.
Planting September through November is the best time to plant the red poppy seeds for blooming in the Spring. Poppies grow best in direct sunlight. To plant the seeds, sprinkle the seeds in the desired area, then water. The plants will grow about two to three inches by December. Packets of seeds are available in the Visitor Center.
Blooming Central Texas wildflowers bloom from Spring until Fall; how early or how late depends on the weather. Most years our Red Poppies bloom in late March through April, as do the Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes.