JANUARY 19, 2021HOW TO GROW: SNAPDRAGONS

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GROW YOUR OWN CUTTING GARDEN: SUCCESS FROM SEED TO VASE

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Snapdragons are the unsung hero of the cutting garden. In fact, they are one of my favorite cut flowers!

I’ve always wondered why they were not more popular… Maybe it’s because they don’t have a “round shaped” bloom, like a Daisy, Zinnias, Sunflower, Rose, etc.

Let me tell you though, these beautiful “spike” type flowers will bring your bouquets to the next level. It’s important to have a variety of lines and shapes in bouquets and Snapdragons are the perfect addition. 

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Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of growing Snapdragons for cut flower use.

PROS

  • They come in a multitude of colors.
  • They are perfect for bouquets. 
  • They have an excellent vase life, sometimes lasting 2 weeks if harvested at the proper stage.

CONS

  • They can be a little tricky to start from seed. If you are a beginner at seed starting, I recommend skipping these until you’re more skilled and confident. 
  • They can be difficult to find as transplants. You might be able to find transplants at your local nursery, but many of the varieties offered at nurseries are bred for landscape use, not cut flower use (you want to choose varieties that reach at least 18” tall). 
  • They slow down in the heat. If you live in a place with hot summers, they may stop blooming. Here in Michigan, they bloom in June, slow down considerably in July/August, then bloom again in September.  They are frost hardy and I’ve even had Snapdragon blooms all the way into November!
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CHOOSING SEEDS

As mentioned above, you want to choose varieties that will reach at least 18” tall for cut flower use.

Snapdragon seeds often come in a mix of assorted colors, as well as single colors. Here are my favorite Snapdragons to grow for cut flower use: 

  • “Madame Butterfly Series” – All colors are beautiful but the “Bronze with White” is my absolute favorite. 
  • “Chantilly Series” 
  • “Potomac Series”
  • “Rocket”
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HOW TO SOW

Snapdragons can be a little tricky to start from seed. For best results, I like to keep the seeds in the freezer until I’m ready to sow them. This mimics their natural life cycle of germinating after a season of cold temperatures. 

Snapdragon seeds are absolutely tiny. Seriously, they look like dust. It will make your eyes cross when you’re planting the seeds! Be sure to put on your glasses!

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I sow 2 seeds per cell (they don’t need to be thinned, if both germinate).

To sow them, I put the seeds in a small dish or jar, lick the end of toothpick and use the toothpick to pick up 2 seeds. No, I am NOT joking! I wish I was! This is the best method for sowing tiny seeds, like Snapdragons and Poppies.


Gently transfer the seeds to the cell and sprinkle a dusting of soil over them, so they are not completely covered.  

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Because Snapdragons take so long to grow, direct sowing is not recommended. 

Transplants should be started 8-10 weeks before your Average Last Spring Frost. For example, our Average Last Spring Frost is May 15, so I need to start my Snapdragon seeds indoors in early to mid March.


PLANT SPACING

Transplants should be spaced at 6-9” apart. Close spacing encourages longer stem growth.

GROWING ON

Once the transplants have a few sets of leaves and have been hardened off, they can be planted outside. They are “frost hardy” and can handle a light frost.

After the transplants are established and growing, it’s important to “pinch back” the plants. To pinch, simply use a clippers to remove the top of the plant, only leaving 2-3 sets of leaves behind. 

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Pinching signals the plant to go into overdrive and send out multiple branches, with multiple blooms. 


Check out the plant in the photo below – this was taken a few weeks after pinching and now the plant has tons of branches that produce lots of blooms.

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Some people leave a few unpinched on purpose, simply to get early blooms. This is a good way to extend the bloom time of your Snapdragons. 

After the spring/early summer flush of blooms, Snapdragons take a break during the summer heat. You can pinch back the plants again to 2-3 sets of leaves… and they will bounce back in the fall, sending up another flush of blooms.

STAGE OF HARVEST

Snapdragons should be harvested when 1-2 florets on the stem has opened. The rest should still be closed. As always, harvest in the cool of the day – morning or evening.

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POST HARVEST CARE

Snapdragons require no special care after harvesting.

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QUESTIONS?

Questions or comments? Leave them below and I’ll get back to you!

READY FOR MORE?

If you’re serious about growing the garden of your dreams this year, register for my online course, “Backyard Cutting Garden 101”. You’ll find everything you need to plan, grow, harvest and arrange your stunning blooms. I can’t WAIT to help you grow! Click on the button below for all the details. I’M READY TO GROW!8 Likes Share

COMMENTS (36)

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Sarah 2 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hello – i tried to start snaps from seed this year but they did not survive (will try again next winter). I managed to find rockets at a local nursery. Of course, they are established plants and each plant is a single stem: some are already flowering (the tops are flowering first), some have buds at the top. My question is should i pinch the tops (and how much should i cut) or should i just deadhead the spent blooms? The seedlings are probably between 8-12″ high – in other words, they’re not tiny seedlings.

I’m in Canada – Zone 5 and have hot humid summers.
Thank you very much!

Lori Hernandez 2 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Sarah,
Rocket Snaps are great for cut flower use! Yes, your instinct is correct – cut off those blooms so the plants can focus on establishing roots. You could leave a couple of them unpinched, just to see what happens. I like to do experiments like this.

Here on our Zone 5b farm, snaps bloom heavily in June, then take a little break in July/August when the heat hits. But they start back up in again in September and bloom until American Thanksgiving some years (3rd week of November).

Best of luck!

Cheryl Kavalir 2 months ago · 0 Likes  

I bought some Rocket Snapdragons at a nursery last year. They got huge and bloomed through November. Thinking they were an annual I just thought they would die out over winter, so I just let them be. After all the cold and snow they stayed in decent shape. Never cut them back at spring and they are growing like crazy !!! Is this normal lol

Lori Hernandez 2 months ago · 0 Likes  

Cheryl,
Yes, they sometimes come back for a few years! They are not reliably perennial, so I always plant new ones each spring, but I did have one plant in my vegetable garden that came back 3 years in a row. Bonus!

Vickie 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

My snapdragons have come back from last year. Do I cut them back now as if a new seedling or should I let them go? These are the from the Madame Butterfly series. I live in zone 6, northern KY.

Lori Hernandez 3 months ago · 0 Likes  

Vickie,
Yay! I love it when they do that! I’d give them a trim and cut back until there are 3-5 sets of leaves. Or better yet… trim some of them and leave some untouched… and compare the results!

Kate 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi! So happy to have found you and your site! I noticed in your photo you use soil blocking instead of cell packs. Any particular reason? I’ve been reading about both and don’t know which to try! Also – is a heat mat necessary or does it just speed things up?

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Kate,
I use both methods and it took me some time to figure out which method I prefer for each flower variety. As a general rule, I prefer not to grow anything for more than about 4 weeks in soil blocks. So if something is fast growing, going from seed to transplanting outside in about 4-5 weeks, I may use soil blocks.
For things that need to grow on longer before being transplanted, I generally prefer cell trays.
There are lots of pros and cons to each system.
I’d say the biggest pro for soil blocks is the ability to start a LOT of seeds in a tiny place. The biggest con is that they dry out FAST and you may even need to water them 2x per day. In general, I find soil blocks more time consuming (to mix, make, water, etc) than cell trays.

Elizabeth S 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

How often do you succession plant these?

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Elizabeth,
I succession plant most annuals about 2-3 times, 2-3 weeks apart. This functions as an “insurance policy”. 😉 If I lose one tray of seedlings, I don’t have to panic, because I know I have more to replace them. And if all the trays survive? Bonus! Hope this makes sense!

Ann-Marie 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Snapdragons have become my favorite cut flower! I especially like Madame Butterfly and Chantilly. I’m in between houses at the moment. Won’t move into the new one until mid-June, so I’m afraid I won’t have snaps this year!

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Oh, that’s a bummer, but hopefully you’ll have time this year to observe and learn about your new home. I didn’t plant anything the first year we lived on the farm (I also had a 5 year old and a 2 year old). We moved in March and I spent the year making observations and notes and maps. I was grateful for that time!

Brown Rebecka 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Do you put your trays directly in the heat mat or raise them up?

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

They go directly on the heatmat until they germinate. After they germinate, I remove them from the heatmat and they go under lights.

Andy and Tobie Bryant 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Love these flowers! We had great success with the ‘Costa’ variety – we grew Costa silver (silvery pink) and Costa apricot last year. They were long-lasting in the cooler room too. We’re going to try multiple varieties and colors and four successions this year.

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Ooo, thanks for letting me know this! I’ve been eying those, but already had seeds for multiple varieties. I’d like to try them next year! And yes, I do 4 successions of them as well.

Maria 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

This is so helpful! I grew them from seed for the first time last year. They were very slow to grow once they germinated but then grew great. I didn’t know that they were frost hardy so this year I’ll leave them as long as I can. They’re so pretty. And the seed pods are so fun to pick too (I got into seed saving last year too)! I’m going to try to winter sow them this year. Glad to know the tip to cut them back to make them more bushy. They were leggy and fell over so I had to stake them. Looking forward to more of these types of blogs! I would love to grow more from seed so I can save money on the garden center. 🙂

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Maria,
Glad to hear this was helpful! Yes, they can be tricky to germinate and they are slow growing, but once they get going, they are quite carefree.

Yup, try pinching some and leaving the others intact. This will show you the difference and help you decide how you want to grow them. I do leave some un-pinched to get earlier blooms.

Judy C 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Enjoying your flower growing posts, love snapdragons. Question… on your weed barrier, do you buy it locally or order? And how tricky is it to make your plant holes?

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Judy,
We order it from Amazon or Peaceful Valley/Grow Organic.com.
To make the holes, you’ll need a custom made steel template and a propane torch. If you click “BLOG” on our website homepage and scroll down, you’ll see a post called “How to Eliminate Weeds in Your Garden”. There is a short video showing how we do it.

Lorena K 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Lori, Thank you for making this 2021 beautiful. I am a bit of a “search engine junkie” and the Lord has shown me that I need to go back to basics. So knowing I can get lovely information on seed starting through your emails and blog is a delight. I am praying that I can take a leap of faith and start this year to sow seeds (in containers and a little mini area of dirt) and see how God’s goodness flourishes. I am looking to see if you mention something about cosmos, zinnias, forget-me-nots, wildflower mixes, etc. To be honest, whatever the Lord has put for you to teach us will surely be a blessing. Thank you!

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Lorena,
Thanks for being here! Grateful to be of help with the emails and blog posts 🙂

Yes, do take that leap of faith. The worst thing that could happen is failure, and we know that “failure” is simply valuable feedback to help us learn and grow! Best wishes and have fun with it!

Jessica brennis 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi! Love that your sharing all of this information for us. So I did all of the first steps you did. I then put under the lights. Didn’t see anything for weeks and read something about needing cold. So covered with a dome and put in my garage. Still nothing. Another grower said no they need heat. She does hers at 70-72 and they has always had luck. So back under the lights and I finally got some sprouts. But now idk which method worked. Loo

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Ha ha!!!! Welcome to the wonderful world of seed starting. 😉 You’ll quickly find that pretty much every person has a different method for starting the same seeds. Glad you got some to germinate!

Do you have a heat mat? That can be the trick for proper germination….

Christina 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Thanks so much for this advice! I’m new at growing anything and I’m giving Snapdragons a try this season ha! We’ll get what we get. 🙂

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Christina,
Snaps can be a little tricky for beginners, so give yourself grace! Best of luck!

Debbi 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

I am smitten with snapdragons!💗 Thank you so much for the information of starting them from seed. I am so excited to try and grow them from seed this spring! Do you have a suggestion of where to purchase the seeds?

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Hi Debbie,
Yes, I love them too! Glad this was helpful.
For seed suggestions, I have a blog post “My Favorite Seed Sources for the Home Gardener” that will help you out.
https://www.threeacrefarm.net/blog/2018/2/16/my-favorite-seed-sources-for-the-home-gardener

Lisa 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Such a helpful post! It helps we’re in the same zone too! Thanks for sharing!

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

You’re welcome! Hope you can grow some…. they are true delight!

Monica Crandell 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

What a great post! So, so helpful. Thank you for this info that will definitely make success for us with snapdragons waaaay more likely!!
Monica

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

You’re welcome! They can be a little tricky to start from seed, but once they get in the ground, they are pretty carefree plants. And sometimes, they will even decide to perennialize. I have a few plants that have lived 3 seasons now!

holly childers 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

These are definitely one of my favorite flowers! Thank you for this post.

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

They are so underappreciated! I love their long vase life and sweet scent. A winner in my opinion!

Daniel 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Antirrhinum is the name Wikipedia page has given while antirrhinum majus is the plant that is usually meant by the term of “snapdragon” if used on its own. m i right ?

Lori Hernandez 6 months ago · 0 Likes  

Yes, all the Snapdragons I grow are “Antirrhinum majus”.Newer PostWinter SowingOlder PostMy Favorite Seed Sources for the Home Gardener

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