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What's In Bloom: Snapdragons

December 2023

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)

Snapdragons are an old garden favorite for many. Growing up on a dairy farm, there was not much energy devoted to having a flower garden but my parents always planted snapdragons to brighten up special places around the house and farm buildings. 

Transplants set in the garden in October through November will produce several spikes before the cold temperatures of January throw them into dormancy. By early March these same plants will begin to grow and produce a profusion of flowers until June. For maximum flower production, deadhead spent spikes routinely.

The origin of snapdragons is not certain but it’s believed that they were wildflowers in Spain and Italy. These flowers have been cultivated for centuries and through backyard gardeners harvesting seeds from those plants with superior qualities, today we have snapdragons with an array of flower color and plant size.

The most common snapdragon flower type is the hinged jaw that opens like a mouth. The less common type is the double flower, also known as a butterfly or azalea snapdragon. Of the hinged jaw type, there are dwarf selections which some call trailing, then you have the short (9 to 12 inches), intermediate (12 to 24 inches) and lastly the tall type (24 to 36 inches). If you plan on growing the tall type, which make excellent cut flowers, plan on using plant stakes or a netting to support those beautiful tall lanky spikes.

Here at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, I chose to plant the short and intermediate type and since I could not make up my mind of what color, I went with mixed colors. Seeds were sown in July and seedlings were transplanted into 4 inch pots early September.

You will find approximately 500 snapdragons growing along Butterfly Path and a few in containers on or near Tyson Terrace. Come and enjoy the rainbow of colors that snapdragons can provide a winter garden.

Berni Kurz, Director of Horticulture