What Are They and How Can I Use The Long Spike of Puffy Petals?
A long spike of puffy petals, many colors, and flowering in spring or early summer and again in autumn. That’s useful! These are used as cool-season annuals. They are actually short-lived perennial and in zones 8-11, they might bloom again, for you next year. Its botanical name is Antirrhinum majis which refers to looking like a nose or a snout!
Ways To Use The Spire of Petals
There are certainly entertaining uses for this in your house and garden and maybe the medicine cabinet too.!
- Beds and borders
- Window boxes
- Hanging baskets-for the smaller varieties
- You can squeeze the flower “mouths” and amuse small children
- They are bitter but you can try them in salads
- Oil has been produced from the seeds
- They have been used in medicine,
- Taller Snapdragons make an excellent background for lower plants, try a mounding shape in front of the spikes
- Deer do not like them, you can use them on the edge of plants deer do like
How Did They Get To Us?
We humans have a long history with Snapdragons. They were in gardens of the Greek and Roman empires. An ancient Greek physician wrote about beneficial uses for them. They are thought to be native to places in southern Europe, Russia, and North Africa. They may have been native in North America although we know that colonists brought their seeds with them.
The first written notes on them that we have records of are by Thomas Jefferson who put them in his “shrubbery”. A shrubbery is a place to go for a quiet walk, enjoy nature and avoid for a few minutes, the business in the house. We find references to them in the writings of Jefferson, George Washington, Jane Austen, and of course Monty Python!
So, plant snapdragons in your “shrubbery” and you can be in very good company!
Dwarf-6″-15″, these are dense and bushy- Try these with dianthus, dwarf plumbago, dusty miller, vinca
Medium-try with geranium, marigold
Large-30″-48′, try with geranium
Trailing- there are now a few trailing varieties that are popular for hanging baskets
Companion plants-select these for appearance as well as sun, soil, and water requirement compatibility.
How Can I Grow Them?
Snapdragons appreciate a place with full or morning sun. Plant them in moist soil amended with organic matter. Dig the hole twice the width of the plant container and as deep as it is. Place some time-release fertilizer in the bottom of the hole and gently remove the plant from its container, planting so that the top of the plant is as high as the surrounding soil. Separate the plants 6″-12′ apart.
Water the plant well. You can leave a small depression around the plant and consider the plant well-watered when that depression is full of water. A thorough watering will eliminate air holes and produce good root to soil contact.
Water daily for the first two weeks or so. As the plant grows, maintain moist but not soggy soil. After new growth begins you may begin a fertilizer program. Fertilize every four to six weeks. We find the liquid fertilizers that you apply with the hose effective and simple to use. Use a product designed for blooms that is convenient for you.
To Maximize Blooms
Remove dead blossoms, this encourages the plant to produce flowers instead of seeds. By about midsummer, the Snapdragon droops and loses blooms. This is the time to cut the stalks back by about 1/3 to 2/3 of their height. This will encourage a new bloom in early autumn.
A Midsummer Alternative
If you miss the spikes of color in the heat of summer, you can consider Angelonia. It is even called the ” summer snapdragon“. It provides the same spires of blooms and even a desirable scent. It does require less water.
Pests And Diseases
These are vigorous plants and normally simple to deal with. But, “the best-laid plans”…
Virus- plants can have viruses and it is normally fatal. Destroy visible pests and the damaged plants.
Leaf Spots, Rusts, and Powdery Mildew-these are unrelated problems but are treated the same way with fungicides. If this problem is repeated the plants may need to be planted farther apart to ensure airflow.
Anthracnose and blight-often fatal, you can use a copper fungicide. Destroy damaged plant material.
Insects such as aphids and whitefly-you will notice disfigured flowers and leaves. Insecticidal soaps may be helpful. Start by removing damaged leaves and those on which you see insects.
Here are links to 4 university articles on the Snapdragon.