Snapdragons are a popular backyard flower, so named because it is thought that their vibrant blossom is similar to the face of a dragon, with jaws that open when the flower is squeezed and then snap shut. Available in a wide variety of heights and colors, this cool season plant is a delightful low-maintenance addition to cottage gardens world wide.
There are five basic types of snapdragons, designated and sorted primarily by height. The tall snapdragons reach 3 to 4 feet on average and are the current favorites for use in cut flower arrangements. The intermediate snapdragons grow to 1 to 2 feet in height on average. Their blooms tend to be deeper in hue than the taller varieties and they are more tolerant of inferior soil conditions. Dwarf varieties are less than 12 inches in height, but come in the largest variety of colors. Open face snapdragons do not have the classic "snapping" flowers and trailing snapdragons are wider than they are tall when fully grown. No matter which variety you choose, each and every plant is capable of producing between six to eight blooming spikes in a single season.
Snapdragons can make a significant impact on the appearance of a garden. They flourish in flower beds, attract butterflies to your yard and produce excellent borders, which deer find unappealing. The showy blossoms make a brilliant addition to cut flower arrangement. However, some home gardeners are not necessarily keen to plant snapdragons because the flowers have a tendency to "shatter." This means that once they blossoms have been fertilized, the petals abruptly fall from the plant. However, botanists have been working on varieties that are resistant to shatter.
Snapdragons are generally labeled as cold season annuals. When planted in well drained soil and given full sun, they will exhibit a narrow, vertical growth pattern that adds an attractive contrast to the garden. Snapdragons blossom in the early spring and continue to flower into the first weeks of summer with the elegant spikes gradually opening the fragrant flowers from the bottom up. When properly trimmed in the summer, most varieties will bloom again in the cooler climate of autumn.
If you're starting from seeds, sow them indoors into individual peat pots approximately eight weeks before the final frost. Transplant the seedlings as soon as the soil can be worked; as cool season plants, they can withstand a frost. Situate the plants 6 to 12 inches away from each other, depending on the size of snapdragons you're cultivating. As the plants begin to bloom, cut the flowers as frequently as you'd like as the cutting encourages the production of additional stems that will blossom later in the year.
Once the snapdragons are established, the only upkeep they require is deep watering during the hot summer months once the blossom have dropped off. Plants can be cut back during the summer, but you may want to leave a few flowers on the stalk. These blossoms will mature and sow the seeds for the next season's sprouts.
Snapdragons are gorgeous and popular with both adults and children. The blossoms are reminiscent of faces with the petals forming a mouth. By gently pressing on the sides of the bloom, the mouth opens and closes. However, children should not be permitted to play with snapdragons without supervision as every part of the plant, including the blossom, is poisonous if ingested.
- Photo Credit wikimedia commons
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