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Snapdragons add a voluptuous vertical element to bouquets, usually in late spring and late summer to fall. It’s quite easy to grow snapdragons, even from seed. I’ll show you how.
They’re often considered as annuals or tender perennials, or even as bedding plants. In harsher winters they are usually grown as an annual. But in milder winters they can grow as a perennial, though they may be short-lived.
There are many varieties of snapdragons that can be grown easily for tall cutting flowers.
And you’ll learn a fun little fact about snapdragon flowers below.
They come in a wide range of colors, from white to warm-toned pastels, to deep reds, pinks, and bicolored flowers. The snapdragon flowers are divided into upper and lower jaw-like lobes that open when ready for pollination. Bumblebees love these flowers.
They bloom in early spring, in mild winter areas they’ll even start in winter. In hot areas they’ll slow down or stop blooming. But will bloom some more in later summer and fall. The flowers bloom from the bottom up.
Several varieties of flower shapes have been developed: some with double flowers and some with azalea-shaped flower, and more.
When harvested and conditioned, vase-life is 7-10 days.
Snapdragon flowers are edible! You can add these flowers to your salads, appetizers, and sandwiches. They’re not as fruity tasting as they might look like they’d be. They’re on the bitter side. And when you think about how we add bitter greens, radish sprouts, and onions to foods, these can fit right in with that application…but they’ll be much prettier!
And see the Fun Fact below↓.
Snapdragons are often considered annual, but if you’re in a warmer area, zone 7-11, they’ll tolerate some freezing.
Different varieties have different heights. There are some that are sold as bedding plants and get 10-12 in. tall, or some varieties that get up to 24 in. tall. If you’re in a nursery and find the bedding snapdragons, go for the ones that get at least 18 in. tall, taller is preferable.
But! The varieties grown for cutting flowers are best, they’ll get the tallest. Some from 24 in. to 26 in. and some up to 60 in. (that’s 5 feet tall!). And they’ll produce more of the longer stems for cutting.
Growing the Plants
Zones 7-11 as a perennial, though sometimes a short-lived perennial:
Zone 6 and below grow as an annual, but you may have some plants overwinter if you have some milder winters.
Full sun to part shade
They like rich, well-drained soil.
The easiest way to get the prettiest and the tallest snapdragons is to select the varieties and colors you like best and grow them from seed. There are many seed sources available. But if you find a specialty nursery, you may be able to get excellent starts to buy to save you time.
Snapdragons take 3 ½ – 4 months to flower from seeding directly into the soil or from planting out the transplants.
My preference is to start from seed. Snapdragon seeds are tiny and by seeding into my seed flats I have more control over their care and I can protect them from anything that might come along and eat them or crush them while they’re so tiny.
Since they take so long to bloom, they need to be started in their seed flats nice and early. Start your seeds about 8-10 weeks before you want to plant them out. You should plant them out right around or right after the last frost date for your location.
Do your best to sow just 2 or 3 seeds per cell. The seeds need light to germinate. Drop a couple or few seeds and “rake” them with your finger. This way they will be more or less covered with soil.
Thin after they emerge. (To thin, use your fingernails or small trimming clippers to cut, rather than pull the removal plant at, or close, to the soil surface. This eliminates root disturbance to the remaining plant.)
I start mine in cells that are a little larger so they can grow to a size that can be transplanted right out into the garden.
When the plants have their first true leaves (not the cotyledon leaves/seed leaves) they can be planted out into the garden.
If you are patient and want more flower stems, but later in the season, you can pinch the plants back by half when they are 3-4 in. tall.
Plants can be spaced at 4- 12 in. unpinched, or 6-12 in. if pinched.
The Potomac series are 40-60 in. tall! They come in a wide variety colors. This variety is my favorite.
Madame Butterfly varieties are the double petaled types, also called the azalea types, 24-36 in. tall.
Costa is 40-60 in. and blooms about 5 days earlier than Potomac.
Rocket has been the long time garden standard, they grow to 24-36 in.
Johnny’s is my favorite for snapdragon seeds. They have a great selection of the above-mentioned varieties, colors, and color mixes.
But there are many other sources…just look for the varieties listed above.
Have you wondered why these fluffy, pretty flowers have “dragon” in their name? Well, remember those jaw-like lobes of petals I mentioned earlier? Pick off one flower and gently squeeze the sides of the jaw hinge and watch the mouth open fiercely…you’ll need to supply the sound effects, but you can imagine the dragon.