How To Grow - Antirrhinum

Antirrhinums, with their ‘Snapdragon’ flower shape and vibrant colours, have become a favourite of the garden, providing autumn and winter colour – either mass planted to form closely packed pyramids of colour or trailing from a basket. Here’s our handy guide to growing Snapdragons

Basics

The Antirrhinum is usually treated as a biennial. ‘Snapdragons’ are often associated with childhood, as children like to play with the individual flowers – pinching them to cause a dragon-like mouth to open and close! The flowers are lightly scented and the colours available are now widely assorted – light pinks and crimsons, yellows, whites and carmines. Flowers often shade from one colour to another on different parts of the petal. Snapdragons are available in two classes – either as dwarf, pyramid shaped plants, or as the tall tower-like plants.

When and where to plant

Full sun and fertile soil are the ideal factors for location. Antirrhinums grow wild on old walls, and they will thrive in a border. The soil conditions will ideally be well draining with a neutral pH, and an average amount of moisture. For autumn bedding – ensuring a display in the spring – plant out your plug plants from late August to mid September, depending on the size of the plants acquired. Grow on plants indoors until they reach 8 to 10 cm in height at which point they’re ready to plant out. The ground should be prepared before planting out. Dig it over thoroughly, and mix in plenty of organic matter – such as manure or leaf mould. For spring bedding – ensuring a summer display – plant out in late March or April.

How to plant

Dig an individual hole for each plant – the hole should be deep enough to cover the roots but not any of the exposed stem. Gently firm into the ground, and water in. Keep watering throughout the season and feed weekly for best results. For container planting, fill a container up to three quarters full with multipurpose compost. Carefully remove the plant from its tray or pot and place in position. Fill the container back in with soil and gently firm down. Water in generously. Plant out the antirrhinums with a space of 10 cm between each plant.

Flowering

The flowers grow on tubular spikes, with flowers which open from the base upwards. To create a greater abundance of flower spikes, pinch out the stem tips when the plants are established in their growing positions. Early cutting of flowers will encourage the plants to produce new, later blooming stems. Deadheading will also prolong the flowering period. Each antirrhinum plant will grow out around eight flower spikes in a season.

Plant care

A symptom of disease to look for is ‘rusting’ on the underside of leaves – small brown spots on the underside and pale indents on the upper surface. This is caused by a fungus, and if the attack is severe, the leaves may shrivel and fall. Spray with an anti-fungicide and remove any affected plants at the end of the flowering season.

Did you know

For use as cut flowers, Snapdragons used to be difficult to use as blossoms fell shortly after fertilisation took place. Most modern breeds of plant are now ‘shatter resistant’ and the problem has been avoided – enjoy a bouquet of snapdragon flowers while your plants go on to produce more flower spikes!


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