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.