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Dragon Flowers (Antirrhinum): How to Grow Snapdragons

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Dragon Flowers (Antirrhinum): How to Grow Snapdragons


Colorful Snapdragon Flowers
Colorful Snapdragon Flowers


Snapdragon obtained its name from the shape of its flowers. It resembles the appearance of the face of a ‘dragon’ when opened and closed. The plant is easy to grow and maintain. Available in almost all colors, there are a Snapdragon species for every interior décor out there. They also come in bi-colors to choose from.

Bright colors such as playful oranges and reds can add life and warmth indoors, brightening your space. On the contrary, flowers in pale pastels tone down a home decorated in bright colors, giving a cool backdrop for interior items and accessories to stand out.

They can also make outdoor spaces stand out in your neighborhood. Although they bloom throughout the cold season, they also grow in summer. The plant blossoms resemble open mouths when squeezed, hence most of its common names. Blend the right flower colors with those inside your home to achieve an exceptional look.

What is a Snapdragon?

Also known as dragon flowers or Antirrhinum, Snapdragon is native to the Mediterranean. It is also known as Dog’s mouth, Lion’s mouth or Toad’s mouth. Antirrhinum refers to ‘like a snout’ because seed pods take the shape of the nose of a calf. It also grows in rocky areas in the US, Europe, and North Africa. The plants are available as creeping or trailing varieties, and tall or short hybrids.

The annual plants for cold seasons thrive in partial shade or full sun. Its cultivation occurs in temperate to tropical zones. They can be grown as rockery, bedding, container plants or herbaceous borders, among other uses. The plants are grown for flower cuts.

Antirrhinum majus

Acabashi, 'Antirrhinum majus' Sundial Garden Hatfield House Hertfordshire England, CC BY-SA 4.0

Traditionally, they provided protection from evil powers (witchcraft) because people believed they had supernatural powers. The plants also helped restore women’s youthfulness and beauty. Heirloom flowers transition homes into a luxury oasis for relaxed, stress-free living.

Why Grow Snapdragons

Snapdragons come in all sort of colors ranging from bold colors to light hues except blues. Two months before the last frost, the seeds can be started indoors. Organic matter easily amends the soil (thus reduces costs), and Snapdragon seedlings enjoy growing in the full sun. Furthermore, they’re less susceptible to pests such as aphids and plant diseases.

The plants can give a complete bushy appearance if trimmed for better ornamental value. They’re perfect for cut flowers. Snapdragons also produce a sweet scent, making them ideal houseplants. Dwarf varieties grow indoors throughout the year. The plants are also compact, meaning they can easily grow in window boxes, patio containers, grow bags and along border gardens.

Trailing Snapdragons can grow in hanging baskets for display outdoors. They’re a perfect way to add life and depth to your walls. They begin blooming from stalk bottoms upwards for a prolonged bloom in fall or spring, indoors or outdoors. The stalks are also brightly-colored and spiky, adding to the plant’s interesting appearance.

Snapdragon Flowers in Bold Red


Moreover, you can grow Snapdragons as filler plants in your hanging baskets, containers, pots or fabric bags or even tuck them into your walls. Group purples, pinks, yellows, and reds to color your interior space.

Snapdragon Planting Guide

Snapdragon varies in height from 6 inches to 3 feet. Whether you want to grow your plants indoors or outdoors, it’s important to start your seeds before the last frost in the year. The plants thrive in cool climates and go into dormancy during the dry seasons. Read on to find out how to successfully grow your Antirrhinum at home.

Factors to Consider When Growing Snapdragons

When growing Snapdragons, consider various factors discussed below to support optimal growth of your plants. Here are the top factors to look into:

  1. Snapdragon Growth Conditions
  • Exposure to the Sun/Light Requirements

In spring, Snapdragons require partial shade to full sun to grow optimally. They require similar conditions to bloom. However, they cease blooming the moment high temperatures set in. Grow them in partial shades in summer and water them properly so they bloom in fall. Even so, the plants are so easy to grow that you can replace them each season.

  • Hardiness Zones

The tender perennials thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 9. However, they’re often grown as annuals. People think they’re biennials because the plants overwinter and bloom again, but not as in the first growth year. Seed pods develop within the first year and sometimes, Snapdragons self-sow.

  • Soil

Snapdragons thrive in soils with a neutral pH. Although the plants aren’t heavy feeders and live for short periods, organic manure is essential in promoting blooms and plant health. They do well in cool soils, not warm or hot soils.

A good quality potting mix is ideal for indoor growth; the addition of perlite to the soil is recommended. Mulch the soil with vermiculite to improve ventilation.

  • Water Requirements

Snapdragon grows in moist soils with proper drainage. Water regularly and thoroughly and use pots with good drainage to prevent fungal diseases such as root rot.

  • Humidity

The plants require about 40% relative humidity. Use humidifiers to improve humid conditions indoors.

  • Temperature

Antirrhinum grows in temperatures ranging from cool to moderate, that’s 600 to 750 F. Harden Snapdragon seedlings before transplanting them outdoors at the beginning of spring. They’re hardy to light frost, but require over-wintering in extremely cold seasons.

  • Fertilizer

Apply diluted liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks.

  1. Period of Bloom

Snapdragons thrive in mild climates from spring and fall to winter. Deadheading increases growth. However, the plants generally bloom for a long period.

White Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus Flowers

  1. Size of Mature Plants

The plants range from tall to dwarf varieties, with the information often on the seed packet label. Tall varieties grow up to 30 to 48 inches while dwarf varieties range in height from 6 to 15 inches. The latter species are dense and bushy, with several flower stalks. On the other hand, tall species are less dense.

Varieties with qualities of dwarf and tall species grow in height from 15 to 30 inches. Growth conditions vary based on a species’ fullness and size at maturity. A plant’s size also comes in when choosing varieties to grow indoors or outdoors. Dwarf varieties are ideal for indoor growth.

  1. Snapdragon Species

Just like choosing the size of a mature plant, the specific species also comes in handy. The two go hand-in-hand.

  1. Propagation

Antirrhinum can be grown from seeds or seedlings as you deem fit.

How to Plant Snapdragons

You can plant Snapdragons from seeds indoors in pots and let them grow as indoor plants or bring them outside for transplanting in beds as seedlings. Here's how you can grow your Snapdragon plants at home:

  1. Start Your Snapdragon Seeds in Pots

You can start your seeds for planting. Alternatively, buy seedlings from a local nursery or garden center.

Choose the Right Snapdragon Seeds and Buy – Growing up to 3 feet tall, Snapdragon plants bloom bold flowers in various colors. Choose a variety based on the color(s) you want your plants to produce. Sonnet seed series produce yellow, red, purple, pink and white flowers; they grow up to one and a half feet tall.

Rocket seed series produce pink, red, purple, yellow and white flowers; they grow up to three feet tall. On the other hand, Liberty seed series produce purple, red, white, pink, yellow and other flower colors; they grow up to two feet tall.

Start Your Dragon Seeds Indoors – Six to eight weeks before the last frost in the year, start your seeds indoors. It should be at the onset of spring, the right Snapdragon planting time. Instead of using regular potting soil, use seed substrate or sterile seed starting mix. Make DIY pots or buy grow bags to start your seeds. Fill the pots with soil up to three-quarters and sprinkle seeds on them lightly to cover the entire surface.

Press the seeds lightly to partially submerge them in soil; they require light to sprout. Place the pot near a window with access to sufficient light for warmth. Water it often to keep the soil moist. Alternatively, plant the seeds outdoors in late fall.

Prepare a garden bed and press the seeds onto it after sprinkling them. You can also buy Snapdragon seedlings from a local garden center or nursery to avoid starting your seeds. Expect the seeds to germinate in 10 to 14 days.

Sprouting Seeds in Pots

Sprouting Plants in Pots

Nurture Your Seedlings as they Grow – Water your seedlings properly as they grow and keep them warm. Keep the temperatures from 600 to 700 F. Water the seeds as they germinate for optimal growth.

Prune Tips at 6 Leaves – After the seedlings grow six leaves, cut off their tips to boost bloom. The same applies to seedlings bought from stores. However, they must have six leaves to resist the effects of pruning out the tip.

  1. Transplanting Snapdragon Seedlings

Prepare a Raised Garden Bed Outdoors – Antirrhinum thrives in cool temperatures, making the start of spring the best time to plant the seedlings outdoors. Make sure your bed is ready for planting before the last frost in the year. They thrive in neutral soils under the full sun.

Use organic materials such as rotten leaves to amend the soil for prolonged bloom. Till the bed before applying the organic matter up to six inches deep. Mix the soil with organic matter thoroughly to improve drainage.

Plant the Seedlings on the Last Frost Date – Snapdragon can withstand light frost. Dig planting holes at a minimum of 1 foot apart for the right spacing between plants. It allows free flow of air and protects the plants from diseases such as rot, rust, and mildew. The plants are susceptible to the diseases. Water your seedlings after planting.

  1. Caring for Snapdragons

Water Regularly – Water your plants every time the soil becomes dry. Avoid overwatering because it can promote mold growth. Water the plants at the roots, but not overhead. The latter can damage flowers due to high pressure. Make sure you water the plants in the morning to ensure water is completely absorbed before nightfall. Otherwise, standing water would foster mildew or rot growth.

Watering Snapdragon Seedlings

Watering Snapdragon Seedlings

Deadhead Wilting Flowers and Stems – Cut off wilting flowers and stems to keep your plants healthy and promote blooming.

Mulch Your Bed in Hot Weather – Mulch your plants with organic materials such as straw and leaves. It keeps the soil moist and roots cool. It also ensures your Snapdragons last longer before dying in summer. Mulching also helps suppress weeds. Alternatively, opt for artificial weed suppressors for the same reasons.

Harvest Snapdragon Seeds – Antirrhinum seed pods develop at the rear end of the stalks as the plant matures. Buy recyclable bags and attach them over the pods. It captures seeds as they drop naturally from the pods. Dry the seeds in the sun and keep them for planting the following year.

Alternatively, let the seeds drop on the soil to self-sow in spring the next year. Cut Snapdragon flowers at the peak of bloom to prevent seeds from developing so you don’t have to worry about collecting them.

  1. Prune Your Dog’s Mouth

Cut off diseased leaves, stems or even flowers. Collect all leaves on the ground for disposal to prevent infected leaves from spreading diseases such as mildew and rot, among other fungal diseases. Proper spacing, one foot between plants, can prevent fungal diseases.

  1. Grow Snapdragons Indoors

Do you want to grow Snapdragons indoors or take them outdoors to add to your flower garden? You can use containers, grow bags, beds, hanging baskets or pots to grow Antirrhinum.

Snapdragon Species

Some popular Antirrhinum plant species include the following:

  • Antirrhinum orontium
  • Antirrhinum calycinum
  • Antirrhinum cornutum
  • Antirrhinum majus
  • Antirrhinum filipes
  • Antirrhinum virga
  • Antirrhinum multiflorum

Check out our large planters and metal raised garden beds to start your Snapdragon seeds or transplant store-bought seedlings.

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