Dictionary of Flowers: Antirrhinum Majus (Snapdragon)

Snapdragon (Anthirrhinum Majus) is a stunning thriller flower for container arrangements. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Peter Miller and Flickr

Snapdragon (Anthirrhinum Majus) is a stunning thriller flower for container arrangements. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Peter Miller and Flickr

  • Antirrhinum majus
  • Common name: snapdragon
  • Family: Plantaginaceae
  • Category: Perennial, used as an annual. Perennial in USDA zones 4-11
  • Height: 6" to 36", depending on species
  • Width: 12" for most species
  • Sun/part sun
  • Blooms: early summer to fall
  • Attracts: bees, hummingbirds
  • Growth habit: erect. Use tall varieties as a thriller accent in container combinations, shorter ones as fillers
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: fertile, free draining, neutral to slightly acid, average watering. Water regularly if grown in containers.
  • Garden uses: containers, cut flower garden, edging, mixed border
  • Diseases: rust, downy mildew, anthracnose
  • Pests: aphids, mites, thrips

One of the most popular bedding plants, snapdragons are easy to care for and provide months of bloom if deadheaded.

They are best suited for cool summer areas. In hot summer zones, it's best to plant them very early and enjoy the blooms in late winter and early spring.

They prefer a sunny position in cooler zones and protection from the sun in warmer zones.

Snapdragons can grow to 36" tall. They can be useful as vertical accents in the garden and used as thriller plants in container combinations.

Flowers appear in spikes that bloom from the bottom up. The flowers are tubular and resemble closed mouths that open up when pressure is applied to the sides.

New varieties have open-face flowers, resembling trumpets. Flower colors include white, yellow, cream, orange shades, pink shades, red and bi-colors.

Some varieties are slightly scented.

Snapdragons are very easy to grow from seed. They can be wintersown or sown indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Sprinkle seed on moist growing mix and expose the seed to light to stimulate germination. They don't mind cooler temperatures to germinate (as low as 50°F).

Pinch back when seedlings have six or so leaves to promote bushy growth. Seedlings dislike over-watering and can rot, so water judiciously and from the bottom.

They need to be hardened off for seven to ten days and can be transplanted as early as two weeks before the last frost date.

Snapdragons don't mind a light frost. If seed is planted outdoors, start snapdragons two to three weeks before the last frost date. In warm zones, plant seed in early fall and transplant to the ground for late winter bloom.

Snapdragons are readily available as nursery plants and transplant easily. It is best to remove the flowers of nursery bought plants before transplanting them to the garden or containers.

They require deadheading for constant bloom. Fertilize regularly during their bloom period. Taller varieties might require stalking and protection from the wind, as the spikes are very tender and can bend or snap off.

Snapdragons can reseed themselves if allowed to go to seed.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

If rust or mildew appears, avoid overhead watering. If it continues being a problem, discard plants and plant new ones in a different spot in the garden. Treat pest problems as needed.

All parts of the snapdragon are poisonous if ingested. 

Popular varieties:

  • Antirrhinum 'Rocket' series - tall, good cut flower
  • Antirrhinum 'Aroma' series - tall, slightly scented
  • Antirrhinum 'Chantilly' series - tall, open face
  • Antirrhinum 'La Bella' series- medium, open faced
  • Antirrhinum 'Madam Butterfly' series - medium, open faced, double
  • Antirrhinum 'Tom Thumb' series - short
  • Antirrhinum 'Magic Carpet' series - dwarf
  • Antirrhinum 'Twinny' hybrid series -dwarf, double, open faced

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Click to see Agaeratum (Floss Flower)Click to see Agaeratum (Floss Flower)

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