Updated/Fact-Chacked on June 30, 2023 by Gareth James
This season is my first year of growing snapdragons (Antirrhinum), and I absolutely love them. Easy to grow, plenty of flowers and loved by bees – they tick all my boxes.
Snapdragons, scientifically known as Antirrhinum, are native to rocky areas of Europe, the United States, and North Africa. Gardeners love them for their rich, vibrant colours ranging from red, pink, and yellow to white and purple. A unique characteristic of snapdragons is the “jaw-like” appearance of their blooms, which open and close when squeezed – hence the name ‘snap’ dragon.
- 1 Best soil to grow snapdragons in pots
- 2 Best position for snapdragons in pots
- 3 How to deadhead snapdragons
- 4 How to cut back snapdragon stems
- 5 Snapdragon companion plants in pots
- 6 Types available in the UK
- 7 Snapdragons and bees
- 8 Collecting snapdragon seeds
- 9 How to grow snapdragons from seed: a step-by-step guide
Best soil to grow snapdragons in pots
Like most flowering plants, snapdragons need well-draining soil to thrive. They prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.2 to 7.0). A good potting mix for snapdragons would include equal parts of garden soil, compost, and horticultural grit. The compost provides essential nutrients, while the grit ensures good drainage.
Best position for snapdragons in pots
Snapdragons love the sun, so place them in a spot where they will receive full sun for at least six hours per day. However, in extremely hot climates, they appreciate a little afternoon shade to protect them from intense, direct sunlight.
How to deadhead snapdragons
Deadheading is an essential part of snapdragon care to promote continuous blooming. Deadheading means removing the spent flowers. To deadhead a snapdragon, use clean, sharp pruning shears to cut off the stem just above a leaf or another flower. This will encourage the plant to produce more blooms.
How to cut back snapdragon stems
Once the flowers have started to fade on a stem, you can cut the whole stem back to the nearest offshoot to conserve all that energy.
Some of the stem may not have side shoots yet, so you can just cut back to health-looking leaves.
I made a quick Youtube short to show readers an example of a side shoot:
Once you cut back the stems, you’ll be amazed at how quickly new flowers will appear. Within 5 days this plant started creating new flower buds.
Snapdragon companion plants in pots
When choosing companion plants for snapdragons in pots, consider plants with similar sunlight and watering requirements. Petunias, geraniums, and pansies are good companions for snapdragons. These plants create a vibrant, colourful display together and grow well under the same conditions.
I think my snapdragon pot below looks pretty good; consisting of snapdragon, Bellis daisey, Bidens, Lysimachia ‘Midnight Sun’ and some Viola left over from winter.
Types available in the UK
There are numerous varieties of snapdragons available in the UK, ranging from dwarf varieties like ‘Twinny Peach’, which grow to about 30cm, to larger varieties like ‘Rocket Mix’, which can reach up to 90cm in height. The ‘Madame Butterfly’ series is another popular choice, known for its double, Azalea-like flowers.
After doing some in-depth research, looking for something a bit different, I came across the ‘Antirrhinum Pretty in Pink’ on Crocus.co.uk. This variety is a relatively new cultivar and is considered perennial – able to tolerate temperatures down to -4 degrees C. This would be a RHS hardiness rating of H4. I am tempted to try this plant, but we can get cold nights in the North East, falling below -4.
Snapdragons and bees
Snapdragons are an excellent choice for those wishing to attract bees to their garden. Their vibrant flowers and pleasant fragrance are irresistible to bees. Plus, growing snapdragons can help support local bee populations, which are crucial for pollination.
I have been amazed at how many bees my new snapdragon has attracted; it’s positioned right next to my seating area so its my main focal point. The plant seems to attract very large (even giant) bees as highlighted in my Tiktok video below:
@plantsman.io Do we think this is a queen bee? it was bloody huuuuge! #bee #gardentok #snapdragon #plantsoftiktok ♬ BEE GEES VS 50 cent – Side_Piece
Collecting snapdragon seeds
To extract seeds from snapdragon plants, first and foremost, patience is key. Wait until the seed pods mature and attain a desiccated, tan-brown appearance, a clear indication they are ready for harvest. In my video above, the flower petals have dropped off, but the seed pods are still fresh; you need to leave these for a while. It’s a trade-off between a new flush of flowers or seeds to grow new plants.
Carefully detach these mature pods by using a gentle pinch-and-pull technique, ensuring minimal disturbance to the rest of the plant. Hold each pod over a container or your open palm and apply gentle pressure to break them open. As they split, the tiny, dark seeds will be released. In case the pods don’t reveal a hollow, rattling sound when shaken, this signifies that they require additional drying time.
How to grow snapdragons from seed: a step-by-step guide
If you don’t have any snapdragon plants, many snapdragon varieties are sold as seeds and are very easy to grow.
If you want to start growing snapdragons from seeds, this easy-to-follow guide will walk you through the process.
Step 1: Prepare Your Materials
Start by gathering all the necessary materials. You’ll need snapdragon seeds, a seed tray, potting mix, a spray bottle for watering, and a clear plastic bag or a propagator.
Step 2: Fill the Tray with Potting Mix
Fill your seed tray with the potting mix. It should be a well-draining mix that can hold moisture without becoming waterlogged. Smooth out the surface without compressing the soil too much.
Step 3: Sow the Snapdragon Seeds
Sprinkle the snapdragon seeds over the surface of the soil in the tray. Remember, these seeds need light to germinate, so do not cover them with soil.
Step 4: Water Carefully
Use a spray bottle to gently water the seeds. This method ensures that the seeds won’t be disturbed or washed away, as might happen with heavy watering.
Step 5: Cover the Tray
Cover the tray with a clear plastic bag or place it in a propagator. This creates a mini greenhouse effect, maintaining humidity and warmth to aid germination.
Step 6: Choose the Right Spot
Place the tray in a bright, warm location. A windowsill is often a good choice. Avoid direct sunlight, which may cause the tray to overheat or dry out.
Step 7: Monitor Progress
Watch for signs of germination in about 10 to 14 days. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Once seedlings are large enough to handle, usually when they have two sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted to individual pots.
Step 8: Harden Off Seedlings
Before planting them outside, seedlings need to be acclimated to outdoor conditions. Start by placing them outside for a few hours a day in a sheltered spot, gradually increasing the time over a week.
Step 9: Transplant Outdoors
Once the last frost has passed and the seedlings are hardened off, they can be transplanted to their final outdoor pots or directly into the ground.
What to do with snapdragons after flowering?
After snapdragons have finished blooming, you should deadhead them by removing the spent flowers. This encourages the plant to produce more blooms. In the autumn, when the plant begins to die back, cut it back close to the ground.
Will snapdragons come back?
Snapdragons are often grown as annuals in the UK, but they are technically perennials. In warmer climates, they can often survive the winter and bloom again in the spring. In cooler climates, they may self-seed and new plants will grow the following year.
How do you overwinter snapdragons in the UK?
In milder parts of the UK, snapdragons may survive the winter outdoors, particularly if you provide some protection with a layer of mulch. In colder regions, consider growing them in pots so you can move them to a sheltered location or even indoors for the winter.
How do you make snapdragons bushy?
To encourage bushier growth, pinch back the snapdragon’s main stem when it’s young. This will encourage the plant to produce more stems and become denser.
Will snapdragons multiply?
Snapdragons can self-seed, which means that they can multiply in your garden. However, they are not invasive and are unlikely to become a nuisance.
Do slugs eat Antirrhinums (Snapdragons)?
While slugs may attack a wide variety of plants, snapdragons are not their first choice. They prefer tender, young plants, while snapdragons have somewhat tougher foliage.
Are snapdragons edible?
While snapdragons are not toxic and are not known to be harmful if ingested in small amounts, they are not typically considered edible and are not generally used in culinary applications. Always exercise caution when eating plants not specifically grown for culinary use.
Gareth is the owner of Plantsman Media. Gareth lives in the North East of England and is obsessed with flowers. He has just started RHS level 2 certification.