Snapdragons

Snapdragons

Also known as: Antirrhinum

One of the most beautiful and prolific plants in the annual garden, the snapdragon brightens up any space with its jeweled colors and tantalizing "dragon's heads" that don't just have children squeezing the flowers to open the "mouths". They're wonderful as cut flowers, since even after they're removed from the plant, any unopened blooms will continue to grow and mature.

Snapdragons get their name from the blossoms, which resemble dragon's heads. When the sides of the flower are squeezed, the petals part and then spring back when they're released. Some say that this resembles a dragon's mouth "snapping". Snapdragons are native to many parts of the world, including southern North America and the Mediterranean. You can also buy snapdragons in most garden centers.

Snapdragons grow to 48 inches height and spread to 24 inches wide. This annual plant is comprised of a stem with small, pointed dark green leaves and a column of colorful, feathery blossoms. The flowers can be white, cream, yellow, orange, red, maroon, pink, or bicolored. Plant snapdragons as soon as the soil has warmed and space them approximately 18 inches apart, depending on the variety.

Growing Snapdragons

Snapdragons need full sun, but they'll tolerate light or partial shade. Plant them in fertile, slightly alkaline soil that's rich and well-drained. If you're propagating from seed, place the seed on the surface of the soil and don't cover them. You should pinch back the plants while they're still little, this gardening technique encourages flowering and bushier growth. Cut back the blossoms when they fade to keep the plant flowering. They may reseed themselves.

Recommended Varieties

There are three categories of snapdragon – dwarf, medium and tall. Dwarf cultivars include "Floral Showers" and "Lampion". Medium varieties include "Black Prince" and tall varieties include "Madam Butterfly" and "Rocket". Depending on your needs, you can find a color and size of snapdragon for any garden at your local nursery.

Landscape Design Tips

Snapdragons look best when they're dominating the back of a border or planted in the middle of a planter, especially if you have a trailing variety. Make sure that you stake taller plants to prevent breakage.

Gardening Zones

Snapdragons are hardy in zones 6-10. They are perennials grown as annuals, so they may come back in a warmer climate.

Pests and Problems

The plants are prone to fungal growth, powdery mildew, wilt, root rot and snapdragon rust. The rust can be prevented if the foliage isn't wet while watering. Snapdragons may also suffer from aphids from time to time, meaning pest control can be an ongoing concern.