Very popular as garden plants, snapdragons are profuse bloomers with brightly colored flowers that develop on tall spikes. Here are some guidelines regarding snapdragon care.
Transplant snapdragon seedlings before they develop flower buds, because such relocation can be too stressful for the plants to survive.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are low-maintenance plants that are easy to grow with a little care. The name of the plant is derived from the shape of its flower. Each flower has two lips, and it opens its mouth when squeezed on the sides.
Otherwise known as dragon flowers, these plants develop seed pods that look like human skulls. Snapdragons belong to the genus Antirrhinum in the family Plantaginaceae.
Snapdragons are perennials that grow as annuals in some regions. The plant has erect stems with spirally arranged, narrow, and tapering leaves. Flowers develop on tall spikes, and the seed pods are oval-shaped capsules.
Most of the wild plants produce purple or pink blooms. Nowadays, numerous cultivars with differently colored, fragrant flowers are easily available in garden centers. Snapdragon blooming season starts from late spring and extends till early fall.
Apart from the color of their blooms, these plants are sold in different sizes too. You may choose tall ones, medium-sized plants, or dwarfs. While tall varieties grow to a height of around 50 inches, medium-sized plants can be as long as 30 inches.
Dwarf snapdragons attain a maximum height of around 8 to 10 inches. However, the size of the plant may also vary with different growing conditions. Being deer resistant, snapdragons can be grown in vegetable gardens to save the veggies.
According to their size, you can grow snapdragons in flower beds, edges, borders, containers, baskets, etc. Trailing and creeping varieties of snapdragons are best for hanging baskets.
Snapdragons can be propagated using seeds, stem cuttings, or seedlings. Usually, these plants are grown from seeds that can be started indoors, two months before the last frost date. It will take around 10 to 20 days for the seeds to germinate.
The ideal temperature range for germination is 60 to 70°F. It is not necessary to place the seeds deep inside the soil, as they require light for germination. All you need to do is to sprinkle the seeds over the soil and press them lightly. You may also use seed-starting medium without soil.
Freezing the seeds for at least two days before sowing increases the chances of germination. Once the seedlings grow to a height of six to seven inches, pinch off the stem tips so that they develop branches and produce more flowers.
Ensure that each seedling has at least six leaves, after removing the tips. The seedlings can be transplanted outdoors, 10 to 15 days before the last frost. You may also start the seeds outdoors, after the last frost. Otherwise, get some seedlings from the nursery.
Snapdragons need full sun and well-drained, fertile soil. Before planting snapdragons, till the soil properly and mix organic matter like compost. Apart from providing nutrients to the plant, soil mixed with compost drains well.
Containers meant for growing snapdragons must have proper drainage holes. The pH of the soil must be between 6.2 to 7. Though full sun is best for snapdragons grown in regions with cooler weather, they may also tolerate partial sun.
Plant the seedlings at a distance of 5 to 6 inches, and water thoroughly. According to the size and growth habits of the plants, you may reduce or increase the space between them.
✿ Once transplanted, the seedlings need regular watering. Keep the soil moist till the young plants establish themselves.
✿ Established plants have to be watered thoroughly as and when the soil completely dries. Press the soil with your fingers, if the top inch of the soil is dry, water the plants as early as possible.
✿ Avoid overhead watering, as moisture retained on the plants can make them susceptible to fungal diseases. Water may also spoil the flowers.
✿ Water snapdragons at ground level, near their crown (the part where the stem meets the roots). It is always better to water them in the morning. Over watering may kill the plants due to root rot.
✿ Tall plants have to be supported with stakes. Apply a layer of mulch during warm weather, so as to retain the moisture level in the soil.
✿ Deadheading is beneficial for blooming. So, remove the withering flowers to induce flowering in snapdragons.
✿ You may also trim down tall stems to keep the plant compact and bushy, and to encourage blooming. This is not necessary for dwarf varieties.
✿ Feed the plant using a general purpose fertilizer during the growing season. Otherwise, feed them once, when the first round of flowering is over. In that case, cut back the plants before feeding, and water them regularly. Use a water-soluble fertilizer meant for flowering plants.
✿ If you want to collect their seeds, allow the flowers to dry out on the plants. Seedpods will develop on the flower stalk. Once they turn ripe, cover the stalks with paper bags, and secure them with thread or elastic bands. You can cut the stalks and shake the seeds into the bag, as they pods get dry.
In short, snapdragons are non-fussy plants that can be grown easily. However, they are prone to fungal diseases and aphids. Fungal attacks can be prevented to a certain extent by providing good air circulation, by avoiding overhead watering, and by regular removal of plant debris.
Contact the local garden center for pesticides and insecticides to get rid of these conditions. You may also opt for disease-resistant varieties of snapdragon. So, get some snapdragon varieties of your choice and enjoy their bright blooms.