I love snapdragons. (Do I start every post proclaiming my love for the flower? Yes, yes I do). It's true, though. I have loved growing these flowers since the beginning of my flower farm journey. They are easy to start from seed, they come in a variety of colors, they overwinter well, and they can hold their own in bouquets and arrangements. <Chef's kiss.>
When I earnestly started to grow flowers, snapdragons were on the first list. Each year, my love for the flower has grown. Last year, I started trays of snapdragon seedlings and had so many I was giving them away. I ended up having three successions of snapdragons and was thankful for each wave of flowers. The first succession was fall planted and ended up self-pinching with the frost we had over the winter. Those first spring snapdragon blooms were a welcome addition to bouquets. I dedicate multiple beds to snapdragons because they are such a happy and endearing plant.
Care & Maintenance
Snapdragons come from teeny tiny seeds. I like to use soil blocks to start my seeds. With those tiny seeds, I use the tip of a toothpick to pick up each seed and place into a soil block. I lightly cover the blocks with dried coconut coir as the seeds need light to germinate. The coconut coir keeps the seeds in place and helps protect the moisture of the block.
After the seedlings have outgrown the grow lights and are ready for the great outdoors, I harden them off and then transplant them to their bed. I like to water the seedlings thoroughly and fertilize them before I move them into their more permanent home. I also like to transplant in the late afternoon, or on an overcast day. The cooler and darker time of day helps them adjust before having to endure the bright sun for hours. I continue to fertilize my snaps and pinch them when they have four leaves. Pro tip: Put the pinched tips of the snaps into soil medium to get new plants. The tips will develop roots and can be planted out when they are ready.
Plant your first succession of snapdragons in the fall and overwinter them to have spring blooms. Snapdragons can be planted, as well, in early spring and into the summer for a continuous harvest of flowers all spring and summer.
Snapdragons do well with netting or bent cattle panel to provide support from wind and rain. Last year, I decided to grow the snapdragons without netting as it is a hassle, and I am trying to cut back on plastic use on the farm. Most of the snapdragons did well, though some were definitely growing sideways.
Snapdragons can develop diseases. My snapdragons developed rust last year. As soon as you see disease on your snapdragons, remove the affected leaves and dispose of them in a sealed bag in the trash. Treat your plants with Neem oil and reapply every week according to the instructions. Make sure to spray the tops and bottoms of leaves. Make sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect all snips, seed starting trays, buckets, etc.
When harvesting snapdragons, cut the plant just above the base. The plant will continue to grow and send out multiple shoots from the one cut if you leave the plant in the ground. If you are transitioning the bed, cut the stem close to the ground.
Cut the flowers when most of the buds are closed but the bottom buds are just starting to open. Place the flowers into a bucket of cool, clean water. If you plan on storing the flowers in a cooler, I find that it helps to wrap the ends of the snapdragons in paper so that they do not bend over. Make sure that the flowers stay upright in the bucket in the cooler. Condition with a flower conditioner. Remember to harvest in the early morning or evening.
Other things to consider
Different varieties of snapdragons bloom at different times of the season. Group I snapdragons have been bred to bloom early in the year and do not require as much light. Group II blooms in early Spring. I like to grow the Costa series from this group. Group III blooms in Fall. Group IV blooms in Summer with the Potomac and Rocket series. Check out the different kinds of snapdragon seeds at your local nursery or plant store.
This post is part of a year-long series on flowers and plants that we love and grow on the farm. Check out other flowers that we love.