The snapdragon plants – Antirrhinum majus [an-TEE-ry-num MAY-jus] are old-fashioned plants native to the Mediterranean.
Snapdragons add a great deal of color, charm, and fragrance to a sunny flower garden throughout the summer and into the fall.
Snapdragons are short-lived perennial plants, but most people grow them as annual flowers.
Growing Snapdragon Plants And Care
Size & Growth
The snapdragon plant comes in many varieties ranging in size from 6″ inches to 3′ feet tall. Naturally, the spacing between the plants will vary depending upon the species selected.
Do not place any variety closer than 6″ inches apart. A 10″ inch spread is optimum for good air circulation.
Flowers & Fragrance
The plants produce lovely, lobed or bell-shaped blossoms in a wide variety of colors excluding blue. Popular colors include purple, yellow, white, red, and a wide range of pale pastels.
Snapdragon blossoms are showy and fragrant and do very well as cut flowers in arrangements. The fragrant flowers are extremely attractive to butterflies.
For the most part, the flowers bloom throughout the spring and summer. However, in very mild climates they may bloom in the winter as well.
Light & Temperature
Snapdragon should be planted in full sun very early in the growing season. Sow the seed directly into rich, well-draining soil.
These plants can tolerate a partial shade setting, but they will not do their best. Strive to plant in an area receiving at least six hours of bright sunlight a day.
Grow snapdragon plants as annuals in any part of the United States. They are more likely to survive as perennials in USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11. This is especially true if you provide winter protection.
Watering & Feeding
Right after planting, water your snapdragons daily. Be sure the soil is well saturated to a depth of six or 8 inches. The moisture helps the plants establish a strong root system.
Once established, snapdragons need about an inch of water weekly if there is no rainfall. Avoid overhead watering as this can cause water-related problems such as rot and mildew.
Instead, use a soaker hose to provide a weekly deep watering, or water whenever the top 2″ to 3″ inches of soil feels dry.
Be sure not to overwater as this causes problems with fungus and rots.
Use mulch to hold moisture into the soil. Mulching is also an excellent way to prevent weeds from growing up in your snapdragon patch.
Apply between one and three inches of high-quality organic mulch around plants. Use pine needles, chopped bark or dry grass clippings.
Once a month or once every six weeks, feed your snapdragons a meal of general-purpose liquid fertilizer. This is especially important while the plants are in bloom.
To keep from repeatedly fertilizing, till some slow release fertilizer into the soil before sowing seeds. Water well immediately after feeding to reduce the risk of nitrogen burn.
Soil & Transplanting
Grow snapdragons in a well-drained and consistently moist soil. If the soil is sandy or low in nutrients, amend it by mixing well-aged compost into a depth of about 8″ inches.
This adds nutrients to the soil and improves drainage while simultaneously adding an element of loam to hold moisture.
Grooming & Maintenance
Prune, pinch and deadhead the plant regularly to encourage a bushier plant, and produce more blossoms. When deadheading snapdragons, don’t just pull off the bloom, cut back about a third of the stem.
At the end of the growing season, blossoms may begin to fade, and plants may become spindly in the summer heat. When this happens, cut the plant back sharply leaving only about half or a third of the plant.
Follow this up with an application of fertilizer to encourage it into resurgence and more blossom production before fall.
Very tall snapdragon varieties may need to be staked to prevent them from toppling over.
How To Propagate Snapdragon Plants
Snapdragons are easy to propagate. They grow from snapdragon seeds sown directly into the soil or start the seed indoors several weeks before the last expected frost. Transplant seedlings outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
After sowing seed, keep the soil evenly moist until the plants have germinated and become well established.
When plants have reached a height of 2″ to 4″ inches, pinch back the top half inch to 1″ inch of growing tips. This encourages the plant to create branches and develop in a more bushy fashion.
Snapdragons also grow from root division or cuttings. To keep your plants through the winter, divide the plants annually toward the end of the growing season.
Dig up individual plants, divide the root balls and plant each division in a 1-gallon pot to keep as a houseplant through the winter months.
To propagate snapdragons using cuttings, Cut off 6″ inch long healthy looking stems, late in the summer. Next strip the lower 3″ inches of leaves.
Coat the stripped section of the cutting with a rooting hormone and place the cutting in a pot of rich, moist potting soil.
Keep the newly potted plants in a warm location with bright indirect lighting until the cutting takes root and begin to produce new leaves.
Once established, keep the cutting as a houseplant in a bright sunny window through the winter months.
Snapdragon Pests Or Disease Problems
If planted in a bright, sunny setting with well-draining soil and watered properly pests or disease problems should be minimal.
Plants in a compromised state are subject to infestation by several different varieties of aphids.
Other potential pests include Cyclamen mites and caterpillars such as the snapdragon plume moth, the variegated cutworm, the Buckeye and the cabbage looper.
Other common snapdragon predators include leaf miners, mealybugs and spider mites. Ground-dwelling pests such as snails and slugs and root-knot nematodes can also be a problem.
Over-watered and otherwise compromised snapdragons may contract fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, botrytis blight, collar, and root rot and the like.
Viruses such as tomato spotted wilt, impatiens necrotic spot virus and cucumber mosaic virus can also be problematic for compromised plants.
To avoid problems with pests and diseases, plant snapdragons in a setting where they receive ample light, heat, and ventilation.
Remember low humidity, so provide well-draining soil and be sure to water correctly to keep the flowers and foliage dry.
Provide plenty of space around your plants to ensure good air circulation.
Remove all plant debris such as spent flowers and cuttings promptly to prevent fungal growth. If you do have problems with fungal infections, you may need to apply a fungicide.
Snapdragons are completely non-toxic; however, they are deer resistant and are a good choice in an outlying garden setting where deer are more likely to be present.
Best Uses for Snapdragons In The Garden
Snapdragon is quick growing and fast to bloom, so it is an excellent choice for providing early spring color in the garden.
Appropriate uses for snapdragons are many and varied due to the many different types available. Shorter varieties are excellent for edging flowerbeds and creating borders.
Medium varieties do well in raised beds, flowerbeds, and containers.
Many varieties are excellent choices for rock gardens. Trailing varieties, such as Chinese Lanterns make a very good choice as hanging plants.