Growing Old Fashioned Snapdragons

February 12th, 2013 posted by Brenda Hyde

Snapdragons (antirrhinum majus) are charming old fashioned flowers loved by children and adults. I have grown them for many years and love them more each season. The colors are rich, and they come in three sizes for different uses. You’ll find tall, medium and short varieties ranging from 6 inches to as tall as 4 foot. I mix them with petunias in my porch boxes and put them in our fairy garden for the kids. I also end up with more than I plan for because they are the first to go on clearance at the garden center. I’ve gotten entire flats for as low as $2.00. How can I resist a bargain like that? Snapdragons need fertile, well drained soil in full sun. You can plant seeds indoors in late winter. They take about 2 weeks to germinate and do need light to sprout, so plant them directly on the surface of the soil. The seedlings are a little slow at first, so start indoors about 8 weeks before your last frost. You can allow the plants to reseed in autumn or plant new seed then. // Don’t crowd the snapdragons, and water them from underneath, not overhead to help prevent rust -a disease they are prone to. Keep the plants deadheaded for bloom all summer long. I was cleaning out my porchboxes in late autumn when it was getting very cold, they were still blooming! Wait until the end of the summer to stop deadheading, and then allow the seeds to form. The pods are easy to collect from the plant and save in paper envelopes. Hyacinth, a Michigan subscriber at Old Fashioned Living shared this about her snapdragons: “I grow mine (tall ones) in part shade (morning sun only) and they do so well. I notice too they last longer without that afternoon sun. Plus, in my backyard microclimate, they not only reseed every year but when I lift the winter mulch off in the spring, I almost always have green stems. Those plants will put out new growth and do very well. I have sooo many now as I always transplant those who have lasted through the winter. I use the smallest ones for the front of my perennial bed along side the driveway where it really heats up … all day long. Many of those go through the winter as well. A total win-win plant. They also overwinter well on my unheated, glassed-in porch! Crazy as it sounds, I have some of the tall ones (rose, pink, yellow, and white) planted under pine trees (limbed up 20+ ft.) with hellebores, Solomon’s Seal, tiarella, carex Bowles golden and foxgloves. They all get about 3-4 hrs dappled morning sun and add lots of color in that area. Snaps are a sure bet for even the beginning gardner. When I lived in zone 9A, we had them all winter long.” If you grow the tall varieties, plan on staking them when they are 4 or 5 sets of leaves. These are best grow in the back of a bed. The other varieties will work in containers or beds. If you can’t resist a bargain, then buy flats on sale-they will look rather wild, but cut back the blooms and even some stems to about 4 inches, and they will bounce back. Keep them well watered! In Zones 6 and up, you can cut back the plants in the fall, and they will often come back in the spring. Snapdragons can be used as a cut flower. Snip them when about 1/2 the flowers are open on the stem, and recut under water. Using a floral preservative they should last about a week. Snapdragons are available in so many beautiful colors and varieties, don’t skip them this year!

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