Seed Grown Snapdragons – How To Grow Snapdragons From Seed
Everybody loves snapdragons – old-fashioned, cool-season annuals that produce spikes of long-lasting, sweet-smelling blooms in every color of the rainbow, except blue. Once established, snapdragons are remarkably self-sufficient, but planting snapdragon seeds can be tricky. Want to try your hand at seed-grown snapdragons? Read on to learn the basics of snapdragon seed propagation.
When to Plant Snapdragon Seeds
When planting snapdragon seeds, the optimum time to start snapdragon seeds indoors is about six to ten weeks before the last frost in spring. Snapdragons are slow-starters that germinate best in cool temperatures.
Some gardeners have good luck planting snapdragon seeds directly in the garden. The best time for this is after the last hard frost in spring, as snapdragons can tolerate light frost.
How to Grow Snapdragons from Seed Indoors
Fill planting cells or seedling pots with well-drained potting mix. Water the mix well, then allow the pots to drain until the mix is evenly moist but not soggy.
Sprinkle snapdragon seeds thinly on the surface of the moist potting mix. Press the seeds lightly into the potting mix. Don’t cover them; snapdragon seeds won’t germinate without light.
Place the pots where temperatures are maintained at about 65 F. (18 C.). Bottom heat isn’t necessary for snapdragon seed propagation, and the warmth may inhibit germination. Watch for the seeds to sprout within a couple of weeks.
Place the plants 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm.) below fluorescent light bulbs or grow lights. Leave the lights on for 16 hours per day and turn them off at night. Planting snapdragon seeds on windowsills rarely works because the light isn’t bright enough.
Be sure the seedlings have plenty of air circulation. A small fan placed near the seedlings will help prevent mold, and will also encourage stronger, healthier plants. Water as needed to keep the potting mix evenly moist, but never saturated.
Thin the seedlings to one plant per cell when the snapdragons have two sets of true leaves. (True leaves appear after the initial seedling leaves.)
Fertilize the snapdragon seedlings three to four weeks after planting using a water-soluble fertilizer for indoor plants. Mix the fertilizer to half strength.
Transplant the snapdragons into a sunny garden spot after the last hard frost in spring.
Planting Snapdragon Seeds Directly in the Garden
Plant snapdragon seeds in loose, rich soil and full sunlight. Sprinkle snapdragon seeds lightly on the surface of the soil, then press them lightly into the soil. Don’t cover the seeds, as snapdragon seeds won’t germinate without light.
Water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but be careful not to overwater.
Note: Some gardeners are convinced that freezing seeds for a couple of days increases the chances of successful snapdragon seed propagation. Others think this step is unnecessary. Experiment to discover which technique works best for you.
Snap dragons are of the genus Antirrhinum also known as dragon flowers. Snapdragon flowers resemble the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth when squeezed . Native to rocky areas of of Europe and the United States and north Africa. Hardy perennials in Zones 5-10, grown as annuals in Zones 1-10. Follow these how to grow snapdragons from seeds, dragon flowers are easy to grow.
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Zone: See above
Start snapdragons indoors, 8-10 weeks before planting out (around the beginning of February on the coast). Transplant out after last frost. Direct sowing is not reliable. Provide bright light and a soil temperature of 12°C (55°F). Seeds should sprout in 10-21 days.
Sow on the surface of a sterilized seed starting mix. To avoid damping off (to which snapdragons are somewhat prone), increase ventilation, use a layer of vermiculite on top of the soil, and water only from below. Transplant out (mid-April or later on the coast) to 30cm (12″) apart.
Grow these easy sub-shrubs in rich, soil with a neutral pH. Pinch back young plants once 6 leaves have appeared for bushier mature plants. Feed lightly twice, before any flowers appear. Deadhead often. If flowering seems to subside, cut back dramatically, and then feed and water generously.
When it comes to choosing a species, flower farmer Erin Benzkein prefers Antirrhinum majus. “No other snapdragon possesses so many desirable traits in one plant: beautiful warm colors, tall strong stems, delicate ruffled blooms, and the loveliest citrus scent,” she says.
Above: Antirrhinum majus, run amok (in a good way) in a cutting garden.
Some advice on growing these old time-y favorites, from garden writer Anne Raver: “These graceful old-fashioned spikes of color do best planted early, in cool weather. They will bloom heavily in summer, and again in the fall if you cut them back during the dog days.”
Above: A packet of 100 Twinny Peach Snapdragon seeds, which will grow into compact plants up to 12 inches tall, is available seasonally from Park Seed. For more information and pricing, see Park Seed.
Dwarf snapdragon varieties, many developed in the 1930s for use in rock gardens and to edge flower beds, also are a good choice for container gardens.
- To grow the prettiest kinds of old-fashioned flowers (instead of the loutish, harshly colored strains prevalent at garden centers), start snapdragons from seed. For heirloom varieties, a packet of 1,125 Snapdragon ‘University of California Mix’ seeds will produce flowers in shades of pink, rose, white, and bicolor” and is $3 from Select Seeds.
- When harvesting flowers from a cutting garden, for best results “they need to be cut in the morning before the sun hits them, or after the sun has sunk for the day.” Read more advice at 12 Tips for Growing Cutting Flowers from Barberry Hill Farm.
- For a charming floral arrangement, pair poppies with snapdragons. See step-by-step instructions in Rethinking Poppies: How to Make a Fragile Flower Last Longer.
Above: Photograph by LaggedOnUser via Flickr.
Keep It Alive
- Plant snapdragons in full sun and well-drained, moist soil. After the root systems get established, give snapdragons 1 inch of water per week.
- Favorite companion plants for Antirrhinum majus include roses.
- If you live in a warm climate (USDA growing zones 8 or 9), you may be able to grow snapdragons as a tender perennial–unless they succumb to mold, frost, wilt, or any of the other plagues to which they are rather susceptible. (Clip any leaves that look as if they might be diseased; they probably are.)
Read more growing tips in Snapdragons: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design in our curated guides to Annuals 101 (again, let’s be realistic). See more ideas for cottage garden design:
- Everything You Need to Know About Cottage Gardens
- Foxgloves: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design
- Steal This Look: Irish Cottage Garden
- Sweet Peas: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design
- Cottage Gardens: Favorite Flowers, with Grace Alexander’s Seeds
Snapdragon Growing Guide
3 steps to planting snapdragon
Snapdragons are easy-going plants that prefer a free-draining fertile soil and a warm sunny spot. Once established they will cope with dry periods, but extra watering is required to ensure plants are well established beforehand. Plant out young plants once the danger of frosts has passed.
Some favourite varieties to look out for are Brazilian Carnival, Chimes series and Madame Butterfly.
Like building a house a good foundation is the key to success in your garden. The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Flower Mix.
The best times to plant are early in the morning, or late in the day so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away. Always water plants well before and after planting.
Directions for planting in garden beds
- Water plants thoroughly before planting and allow to drain.
- Dig a hole, approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant.
- Gently loosen the root ball of your plant and position the plant in the centre of the hole.
- Fill in with Tui Flower Mix.
- Press soil gently around the base of the plant.
- Water your plant well and continue to water regularly.
Directions for potting plants
- Water plants thoroughly before potting and allow to drain.
- Half fill your container with Tui Flower Mix.
- Gently take the plant from the current container, loosen the root ball and remove any loose or dead pant material and roots.
- Position the plant in the centre of the new container and fill with Tui Flower Mix up to 3cm from the top.
- Gently firm mix around the base of the plant. The mix should be at the same level on the plant as it was in the previous container.
- Water your plant well and continue to water regularly.
Feed your plants and they will reward you. Replenishing the nutrients used by your plants ensures your plants grow to their full potential. Feed your Snapdragons with Tui NovaTec® Premium Fertiliser.
A well-watered, well-nourished garden will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay. While your Snapdragons are growing regularly apply a dose of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic to give them a welcome boost.
Deadhead flowers as they finish, this will encourage a new flush of flowers extending the flowering season.