Growing Snapdragons Like a Pro

Growing snapdragons like a pro is not as difficult as you might imagine. These classic annual plants produce dozens of 1-inch blooms on stalks that range from 8 inches to 3 feet. Blooms begin in the early summer and range in color from pastels to deep shades of color.

Growing Snapdragons In Your Garden

Variety: Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus
Zones: 7 to 10, grown as an annual elsewhere
Soil Type: organically rich, well-drained soil
Soil pH: 6.0 to 7.0
Sunlight: Full sun
Availability: Sold as seeds or nursery grown starter plants. When buying plants, look for healthy foliage growth with few open blooms.
When to plant: Snapdragons can be planted anytime after the threat of frost has passed.

Planting Method

  • Seeds: Snapdragon seeds should be sewn six to eight weeks before the last predicted frost. Seeds can be sewn on the surface of prepared soil and placed in a warm, lighted area. Germination should occur in two to three weeks and plants should be pinched back when they develop six leaves to promote a bushy habit.
  • Live plants: Live plants should be placed in a sunny, well-drained location after the danger of frost has passed. Soil should be loose and heavy soil should be amended with organic material. Space dwarf snapdragons 6" apart and tall varieties 12" apart. Taller plants will need to be tied to stakes with string or soft cloth.
  • Watering: Snapdragons require soil that is moist but not damp. Water your snapdragons whenever the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Snapdragons are vulnerable to moisture-related diseases, so avoid watering your plants from above or late in the day.
  • Fertilizing: Feed snapdragons once a month with a water-soluble, quick release fertilizer. If your plants fade after the first round of blooms, cut them back hard and feed heavily to promote new growth.
  • Production: Snapdragons begin blooming in early summer and will continue blooming into the fall. Remove spent blooms to promote the formation of new blooms throughout the growing season.
  • Harvesting: Snapdragons make excellent cut flowers and will last for a week to ten days in a vase with fresh water. Cut flower spikes while there are still some unopened blooms for maximum enjoyment. Snapdragon blooms are also edible and can be used as a garnish or in a salad.

Diseases

  • Root Rot: Plant will yellow and wither from this condition. Root rot is caused by over watering or poor drainage. Make sure plants are placed in well-drained soil and understand the watering needs of specific plants.
  • Powdery Mildew: Usually found on plants that do not have enough air circulation or adequate light. Plants should be watered at ground level to avoid wetting foliage. Treat with fungicide, following manufacturer's instructions. Remove and destroy diseased leaves and stems in the fall.
  • Sooty Mold: Appears as a black powdery substance on the leaves of the plant. Sooty mold usually forms in the presence of aphids or mealy bugs. Mold should be wash from leaves with warm, soapy water. Addressing the insect infestation will limit the appearance of sooty mold.

Pests

  • Aphids: Small, soft-bodied insects that suck moisture from plants. Ladybugs are a great way to control aphids. Consider insecticidal soaps as an alternative to pesticides.

Saving Seeds
Select one or two snapdragon plants for seed harvest and allow the blooms to mature and fade. Cover a flower spike with a paper bag and seal the bag to the spike with string or an elastic band. Allow the seeds to ripen and then cut the flower spike from the plant. Shake the spike in the bag to dislodge seeds. Collect seeds and store them in a cool, dry place.

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