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As usual, if there's a particular plant you'd like me to address, just drop me a line at shell@michellesgarden.com.


Snapdragon
Antirrhinum majus

A mass planting of snapdragons makes an eye-catching landscape accent. Pinch the stem tips of dwarf types once after transplanting to promote branching.

Description

These tender perennials are usually grown as hardy or half-hardy annuals. The plants may be low and mound-forming or tall and spiky. The slender stems carry narrow, bright green leaves and are topped with spikes of tubular flowers that resemble puckered lips. The 1-1/2 inch (12-25 mm), velvety flowers bloom through summer in nearly every color but true blue; some have two colors in one flower.

Height and Spread

Height ranges from 1 foot (30 cm) for dwarf types to 2 feet (60 cm) for intermediate types and up to 4 feet (1.2 m) for tall types. Spread ranges from 8-18 inches (20-45 cm).

Best Site

Full sun to light shade (especialy in hot-summer areas); average, well-drained soil with added organic matter.

Growing Guidelines

Buy transplants in spring, or start your own by planting seed indoors 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Sow seed on the surface, press it in lightly, and put the pot in a plastic bag until seedlings appear; set out seedlings after the last frost date. Or sow them directly into prepared garden soil after the last frost date. Set or thin dwarf-type plants 8 inches (20 cm) apart, intermediates 10 inches (25 cm) apart, and tall types 18 inches (45 cm) apart.

Water during dry spells to keep the soil evenly moist. Pinch or cut off spend flower spikes, especially early in the season, to promote more flowers. If you leave a few spikes to set seed near the end of the season, plants may self-sow. Snapdragons can survive mild winters, especially with a protective mulch. They overwinter as leafy clumps and will start blooming in late spring to early summer in the following year.

Snapdragons are prone to rust, a fungal disease that shows up as brownish spots on leaves. Some rust-resistant cultivars are avilable,b ut even these may show some symptoms. The best prevention is to grow snapdragons as annuals and pull the plants out of the garden in the fall.

Landscape Uses

Snapdragons have a spiky form that makes them excellent companions for rounded flowers, like daisies. Use the low-growing cultivars in masses or as edging plants for annual beds. Tal-stemmed snapdragons are a must in the cutting garden for fresh arrangements.

Cultivars

'Magic Carpet Mixed' grows only 6 inches (15 cm) tall in a range of colors. 'Royal Carpet Mixed' is a rust-resistant cultivar with bright flowers on 8-inch (20 cm) stems. 'Ruffled Super Tetra Mixed' has ruffled blooms in a range of colors on 30-inch (75 cm) stems. 'White Wonder' grows to 18 inches (45 cm) with white blooms that have a yellow throat. 'Black Prince' has crimson flowers and reddish leaves on 18-inch (45 cm) stems.

Medium-height and tall snapdragons look great in beds and borders with other annuals and perennials. Stake tall types to keep their stems straight.


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