Snapdragons Galore

Learn about the joys and beauty of growing this wonderful old fashioned classic flower

Growing Snapdragons October 30, 2008

Filed under: annuals,perennials,snapdragons — patoconnor @ 3:25 pm
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      Growing Snapdragons    

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.

Snapdragons are a spectacular addition to any flower bed or garden. They are easy to grow, are very versatile, and you will appreciate the touch of color and beauty they add to your property.      




How to Grow Snapdragons

Filed under: annuals,perennials,snapdragons — patoconnor @ 2:19 pm
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How to Grow Snapdragons       

Snapdragons were one of the first flowers I tended as a child. Their bright colors and snapping jaws enchanted me from the first. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, snapdragons have been popular in gardens for years. Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) come in three types: dragon, butterfly, and double azalea. Butterfly and double azalea varieties resemble their namesakes and are very lovely in the garden. But only the dragon varieties make the snapping sound, so they are the varieties I will concentrate on.



Within the dragon types of snapdragons, there are several varieties. Some, such as the Rocket varieties, can grow up to four feet tall. Dwarf varieties will remain six to twelve inches high for the entire season. The taller varieties will need full sun to prevent the flower stalks from flopping over, but shorter varieties can tolerate some shade. Some varieties self-seed, but most that you will find in the nurseries are hybrids and won’t come back true.

Growing Snapdragons

Snapdragons can be transplanted or grown from seed. Seed germination can be tricky, but is possible. Keep the seed flats in a warm place—on top of a refrigerator or on a heated germination tray—until they sprout, then get light on them. They will be ready to transplant three to four weeks after sprouting.

Transplanting is easy. Simply dig a hole a little bigger than the pot the snapdragon came in, and drop the snapdragon in. Fill in the dirt around the roots and water to settle the soil. Fertilizer is optional in most soils. Mulch them to keep the roots cool and the snapdragon blooming longer.

Cooler temperatures encourage long-lasting blooms.Daily highs over eighty degrees inhibit flowering. Buy the plants without blooms and get them in the garden just before summer temperatures begin to cool to allow them time to settle in. The roots will grow deeper and the plants will be healthier. Spring is another ideal time to plant snapdragons. Transplant them after the last frost and they will grow and bloom until summer settles in.

Deadheading, or trimming off spent blooms, keeps snapdragons flowering. The flowers form on tall spikes on most varieties, with the blooms starting at the bottom and working their way up. Wait until the entire spike has finished blooming and cut it off, rather than pinching off each flower.

Snapdragons will turn completely brown at the first hard frost. At that point, you can rip them out or trim them down even with the soil. They won’t come back once they are brown. In places where winter frosts are light or nonexistent, snapdragons can be perennials.


Snapdragons are entirely decorative and a lot of fun. The tall ones look lovely in a small bed or as a backdrop for a larger bed, but I always keep a group of smaller ones up at the front of a bed for the kids to play with. If you’ve never done this, you must try it. Get close to the plant, so that your ear is within a few inches of the flower. Gently pinch the base of the flower, where the color just begins, right above the green. You’ll notice the open flower resembles the jaws of a dragon with a fuzzy tongue. Release the flower and it will shut with a snap.

The taller snapdragons look beautiful in floral arrangements. Cut a spike when the buds are fully formed and the first blossoms are open at the bottom. The flowers will continue to open in the vase.

Snapdragons deserve a place in every garden. Introduce these to your children and grandchildren and enjoy them on cool fall afternoons.

~Adele Francks    

Adele Francks has been gardening since she could follow her mother around and hold her own spade. Flowers are a particular love of hers because they are so easy to grow.

Garden and the Earth