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How to Grow: Snapdragons
Full sun, part sun
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
spring through fall in colors such as pink, red, orange, yellow and bi-colors.
Mature Height x Spread
1 to 3 feet x 12 to 18 inches
attracts beneficials, attracts hummingbirds, deer resistant
Snapdragons are fun annuals. Individual flowers look like mouths. It’s fun to use snapdragon flowers to play with your kids. Just squeeze the bottom of the flowers and watch the “jaws” open and close. Snapdragons feature stalks of brightly colored flowers that bloom best during the cooler parts of spring and fall. They may stop flowering during the heat of summer. The flowers start blooming at the bottom of the stalk and open going up. They make great cut flowers and good companions to other cool season plants, especially since they can flower in part shade. While the standard snapdragons are tall, bushy plants, newer varieties have a trailing or creeping habit making them perfect for containers, window boxes, and cascading over walls.
Where, When and How to Plant
Start snapdragon seeds indoors under grow lights 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date or purchase seedlings from your local garden center in spring or late summer. Plant in spring as soon as the ground can be worked around the time you’d plant peas. Plant in full sun to part shade on well-drained, compost-amended soil. Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart. Pinch the tips of plants after transplanting to promote a bushier plant with more flower spikes.
Keep plants well watered and weeded. Mulch beds to keep the soil evenly moist. Stake taller varieties to keep the flower stalks from curving, especially if they’re to be used for cut flowers. Fertilize monthly with an organic plant food.
Regional Advice and Care
Deadhead spent snapdragon flowers to promote a second flush of growth for fall. Snapdragons can withstand frost and, if protected with bark mulch in late fall, may overwinter in warmer parts of New England. However, the second year plants tend to not be as vigorous as new transplants. Watch for infestations of aphids and spider mites and control these pests with sprays in insecticidal soap.
Companion Planting and Design
Snapdragons are versatile in the landscape. Plant them near spring bloomers, such as bleeding hearts, as a transition plant to the flowering of warm-season annuals. Plant them in a cutting garden for use as cut flowers indoors. Plant snapdragons in part shade areas to compliment foliage perennials, such as brunnera and hosta. You can plant newer cascading varieties in window boxes with other cool season flowers, such as pansies.
The ‘Rocket Series’ features 3-foot tall flower spikes that are perfect for cutting. ‘Arrow Formula Mix’ has multi-branched plants that grow 2-feet tall. The ‘Candy Showers Series’ and ‘Lampion Mix’ are trailing snapdragon types with flower colors ranging from deep purple to yellow. ‘Montego Mix’ is a dwarf snapdragon that only grows 8 to 10 inches tall.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.