One of nature’s most stunning examples of color and beauty is the snapdragon.
Rows of perfectly formed, beautifully painted flowers adorn many stems. These well-favored annuals come in a wide assortment of colors and varieties. The website “Annuals A-Z: Choosing and Growing Antirrhinums”, written and published by Graham Rice in 1999, says most annuals are not available in as many colors as the snapdragon. Various shades of white, scarlet, yellow, purple, pink, and peach are available. Two-toned snapdragons are particularly showy.
This softly scented flower comes in various sizes as well, ranging from dwarf varieties to varieties that can reach a height of four feet, according to the same article. Taller varieties make beautiful backdrops for shorter plants, and shorter to medium height varieties make nice borders. “Annuals A-Z: Choosing and Growing Antirrhinums” recommends “Lampion” for hanging baskets, which is a lovely cascading variety. Recommended for window boxes is a dwarf variety called “Kim”. It boosts dazzling orange and yellow flowers. “Burpee: Complete Gardener” published in 1995 by Macmillan, suggests planting low-growing varieties as ground cover. One such variety is “Floral Carpet Hybrid”. It also makes a nice flower for a border or window box.
Snapdragons produce more blooms when temperatures are cool, according to “Burpee: Complete Gardener”. Snapdragons are often sold in garden centers and greenhouses, and they can be purchased as fully developed plants. If starting snapdragons from seed, they should be planted indoors approximately two to three months before spring planting.
The same book says snapdragons require light to begin sprouting, so the seeds should be sprinkled on top of the soil in peat pots, trays, or containers. Covering the peat pots, trays, or containers with clear plastic will help retain valuable moisture during germination adds “Burpee: Complete Gardener”. Also, pinching off the tops of snapdragons that are about four inches tall will encourage the plant to branch out. Before you transfer your snapdragons to the outdoors, check the plant hardiness zone for your particular location. The same article says light frost will not adversely affect snapdragons, but heavy frost can be damaging. In addition, they should slowly be introduced to the outdoors before transplanting. Setting them outside for a few hours each day will strengthen and prepare them for outdoor conditions.
“Burpee: Complete Gardener” recommends planting snapdragons while temperatures are still cool in spring or early in the summer. They will do best in a sunny location with soil that drains well. The same book says the first blooms on snapdragons are usually the largest, but a greater quantity of flowers will bloom after the first ones are finished. It goes on to say that flowering will slow down during hot weather and will resume again when the temperature drops. Also, dead flower stalks should be removed to promote new growth. “Burpee: Complete Gardener” recommends supporting taller varieties with stakes.