Snapdragon, known scientifically as antirrhinum, is a genus of plants native to rocky areas of Europe, the United States and North Africa. The name comes from the fact the flowers resemble mouths that open and close, when the flowers are pressed on their sides.
Antirrhinum will produce clusters of up to 15 bright and colourful blooms along its tall stalk. Each flower is about 4 cm (1.5 inches) long. The flowers start blooming from the bottom and work its way up the stalk. Flowers come in just about every colour of the rainbow, including red, pink, white, yellow, orange and lavender. Some are even bi-coloured. Modern hybrids include double-blooms and variations in leaf colouring.
These flowers are known for being tall plants, but snapdragons come in assorted sizes. In fact, they can be divided into one of five categories: tall (60-90 cm/24-36 in), intermediate (30-60 cm/12-24 in), short (20-30cm/8-12 in), dwarf (10-20 cm/4-8) and trailing.
Snapdragons are a summertime, cottage garden favourite. Taller varieties work well as borders and cutting gardens, while shorter ones would be ideal for bedding, window boxes and containers. These cool-weather loving plants are often considered tender perennials, but are often grown as annuals. Sow seeds in the spring. They perform best in full sun, in well-drained, humus-rich soil.
Tall varieties should be staked and should be planted at least 30 cm (1 ft) apart. Do not overwater, as that can stunt their growth or kill them; water only when the soil is dry to the touch. The flowering period is from late spring to early fall. Deadhead and cut flowers often, to encourage branches and new blooms.
Snapdragons make excellent cut flowers, adding height, colour and texture to arrangements. To encourage buds to bloom and to keep the stems straight, remove the top 5-8cm (2-3 inches) of the stem. Flowers will generally last 8-12 days, but will last longer if the stems are cut frequently. They are sensitive to ethylene gas, so keep away from ripe fruit and veggies, dying flowers and excess heat. They would look lovely with alstroemeria, roses, stock, Queen’s Anne’s Lace and statice. Flowers are available all year round, with the peak period in the summer.
Climate zones: 4-11
Fun Flower Facts about the Snapdragon:
- Snapdragons are called “rabbit’s lips” in Asia and “lion’s lips” in Holland.
- Snapdragons are related to the foxglove.
- These flowers have been cultivated since the 1700s, but have only been hybridized since the 1950s.
- These bright flowers tend to attract bees and butterflies to the garden.
- In the language of flowers, snapdragons represent graciousness or deception.
- In folklore, snapdragons were thought to offer protection from witchcraft.
- Snapdragon (growerdirect.com)