Snapdragons are whimsical plants with lots of care-free appeal. They have an alluring perfume, and if you pick the spike when only the lower blossoms are open, they last for a week in a vase of water. Here are some tips to help you grow the low-maintenance flower.
Know your snapdragons
- There’s no need to gather other blossoms; a bunch of snapdragons makes a complete bouquet. The flowers come in a variety of shades, from subtle pastels to strident, fiery hues.
- Snapdragons are veterans of the cut-flower garden. But, because of their care-free temperament, tidy growth habit and prolonged flower performance, they are finding their way into container plantings and perennial beds as colourful accents to prolong the flowering season.
- Standing 30 centimetres to one metre (one to three feet) tall, depending on the cultivar, their slender flower spikes make them team players that are easy to tuck between other plants for all-season colour.
- The only care needed is removing spent flowers to keep the plant producing more spires.
- Snapdragons with compact dimensions are perfect temporary space fillers for new perennial beds of fledgling plants.
- They take up little space but blossom freely until perennials mature and bloom, which is usually in their second season.
- The compact habit of dwarf series such as ‘Floral Carpet’ makes them ideal edging plants or bedding plants to place beneath taller, bare-stemmed perennials and roses. Varieties like ‘Little Darling’ have open azalea-type flowers.
Spires through all seasons
- There’s no reason to wait with snapdragons. Transplant seedlings outside early in spring, or in warm-winter regions set them out in fall for a splash of colour all winter, spacing them 20 centimetres (eight inches) apart. If they’ve been acclimated to cold evenings, they will endure a few degrees of frost and perform most prolifically before hot weather sets in.
- During hot weather, snapdragons often stop blooming, but will resume as soon as the heat wave goes by.
- In summer apply an eight-centimetre-thick (three-inch-thick) layer of organic mulch, such as compost, shredded bark or shredded leaves, to the soil to prolong flowering by keeping it cool and moist.
- Snapdragons require watering only to prevent wilting in a drought.
- Although rarely troubled by disease, they can fall prey to rust, a fungal disease that disfigures leaves with rust-coloured spots. To prevent rust, water at ground level to avoid wetting leaves, or grow resistant varieties.
- ‘Rocket’ snapdragons show good rust resistance and make tall, straight spires for cutting.
- If sap-sucking aphids infest growing tips, simply dislodge them with a strong spray of water from a hose, or apply insecticidal soap applied per label directions.
Increasing the bounty
- Snapdragons are readily available where bedding plants are sold, and buying bedding plants is the simplest way to infuse your garden with a few spires of sizzling colour.
- For the broadest range of colours and two-toned flowers, called bicolours, buy seeds.
- Sow them indoors eight to 12 weeks before the last frost.
- The seeds need light to germinate, so sprinkle them over moistened, commercial seed-starting soil and do not cover them.
- They also prefer chilly temperatures, so cover the seed container with plastic wrap to keep the soil moist and set it in the refrigerator for two weeks before bringing it out and onto a warm windowsill. The seeds will begin to sprout in seven to 10 days.
- Move seedlings into larger pots when they have two or three sets of leaves and grow them to sturdy size on a windowsill before planting out.
Keep these tips in mind and start planting snapdragons in your garden today. Since cutting keeps the plants performing throughout the summer, you can harvest the snapdragon flowers as frequently as you desire!