The Antirrhinum (Latin: Like-Rhinos-Snout), or Snapdragon as they are commonly named, are incredibly easy to raise and will provide you will lashings of vibrant colour during the summer months. As a child, my father used to grow them from seed year after year. I remember obsessively squeezing the throats of these unusual annual flowers, causing the ‘dragon’s mouth’ to open and shut like a puppet. A good flower to encourage children to ‘get gardening’.
They are not only great for summer displays, but Snapdragons can be used in the winter garden as they will survive low temperatures. They are easy to grow from seed, although may take up to 3 weeks to germinate, so be patient. They also make for good cut flowers and there skull-like seed heads can add interest in a dry arrangement.
Snapdragons aren’t the most fashionable of flowers, but they come in such a large arrange of colours and forms, there is always a spot for them in any garden.
Growing Snapdragons Successfully
Snapdragons are very easy to grow and prefer a well drained soil and are better suited to the cooler months of the year. They will tolerate a frost or two, but don’t perform so well in the heat of mid summer.
Young plants should be protected against the last frosts of Spring. After they have grown to a height of about 6 inches, pinch out the growth tips to encourage bushier plants. It is also a good idea to dead-head your snapdragon to encourage more flower growth.
To get the most out of your Snapdragons, water on a regular basis and feed with a good organic general fertiliser. Guard against rust and aphid attacks.
Common problems when growing Snapdragons
During damp Springs, you may encounter powdery mildew or, more commonly, rust. If this is so, remove all affected leaves. Early intervention is key. You may try rust resistant varieties, such as ‘Coronette’, ‘Monarch’ and ‘Tahiti’. For more information, visit the RHS page on Antirrhinums.
Aphids may also be a problem.