Snapdragons are a plant with a special place in my heart as they are the first flower that I ever grew from seeds. When I first expressed an interest in gardening my parents mentioned this to a friend of theirs who was also an avid gardener. She, like my parents, was happy to encourage me and late in the fall gave my parents an envelope full of seeds that looked like black pepper. It turned out that Snapdragons were one of her favorite flowers and I spent the entire winter waiting in anticipation for spring so I could plant the seeds. Years later I found out that they are my wife’s favorite flower too which makes them extra special to me!
I call Snapdragons the “dragon” warrior as they are very tough customers. They get their name for their resemblance to the face of a dragon who when its sides are squeezed looks like it is opening and closing its mouth. They prefer the cooler temperatures found in the spring and fall and are capable in many climates of acting like pansies; they can be planted in the fall and if properly protected will bloom again in the spring. They are native to Europe, the United States and North Africa and prefer soil that drains well and is not overly wet. However, Snapdragons don’t need to be pampered and I have seen them growing in stone walls and sidewalks as well as flower borders.
Snapdragons are typically classified by their heights. Smaller sizes grow 6” to 8” tall while medium sizes are in the 15” to 30” range. When people think of Snapdragons they usually think of the taller varieties which grow 30” to 48” inches tall and need support to look their best. The smaller varieties make a great edging or container plant while the taller varieties are perfect in the middle to the rear of your flower border. These taller varieties are also popular choices for cutting gardens and are a very attention-grabbing addition to floral arrangements.
As mentioned earlier they prefer soil that is not too wet but do need to be watered during dry spells. They do well in sunny locations but also will tolerate some shade too. The blooms open from the bottom to the top and they are particularly attractive to Bumblebees as the size of the bee allows them to open the “jaws” of the flower in search of nectar. They are relatively pest and disease free and come in just about every color with the exception of blue. Some varieties have flowers that are multi-colored and they are good companions when planted with petunias and salvias.
Once the main flower has finished if you remove it the plant will send up additional blooming spikes. This allows Snapdragons to have a long blooming period although in particularly hot climates they will “take a rest” from blooming if the temperatures are too high. However, when cooler temperatures return they will resume blooming. Another nice feature is its self-seeding prowess and if they find a spot that they are particularly happy with Snapdragons can act almost like a perennial.
If you’ve never tried to grow Snapdragons you are missing out on a very versatile and beautiful flower. Why not give them a try in your garden this fall?