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  • Jane Westoby

Growing Snapdragons

Updated: Apr 19

Snapdragons are the ultimate flower growers dream. They are one of the most productive crops you can grow and available in so many colours to suit your clientele. From wedding whites through to frilly billowing peaches, deep velvet purples and bi-colours .


If you choose the right varieties you can grow them from Spring right through to Autumn and they will even over winter. As a flower farmer it's important to be able to have crops which you can cut and come and again and for sure snapdragons will go on and on producing more and more stems as they are cut so they are worth investing in. The more you can take care of them the more profitable they will be.


Snapdragon Chantilly Salmon

Which Snapdragons to grow

For cutting choose tall varieties such as the Potomac, Doubleshot & Maryland series, rather than dwarf bedding. Twinny is beautiful for sure but stem length will be much shorter so save those for the garden.


Most snapdragon varieties are classified into numbered groups which correspond with certain growing and harvesting periods which will give the best results. Choosing your snapdragons by their flowering period is the best way to get the best blooms when you want them. Sowing, growing & harvesting at the appropriate times will ensure good stems length and bloom quality.


Some varieties such as Opus, Potomac & Maryland can be grown for mid summer harvests (Group 4) as they can tolerate high temperatures and lots of direct sunlight, whereas Snapstar has been specifically bred to be grown throughout winter and spring time when light levels and temperatures are lower. If grown throughout midsummer they may stop blooming as its too hot for them. Madame Butterfly goes across all four groups so is the perfect candidate for flower farming.


Snapdragon Flowering Groups


How to Sow Snapdragon Seeds

  • Start by selecting a high-quality potting mix that drains well. Fill seed trays or small pots with the soil mix, lightly pressing it down to remove air pockets.

  • Moisten the soil before sowing the seeds. This is important as the seeds are so tiny they can get washed away with watering before they even germinate!

  • Scatter the snapdragon seeds evenly and very very thinly over the compost or you may choose to use soil blocks and a toothpick. A bit fiddly but will save time later on when it comes to pricking out. It will also ensure that you don't oversow!

  • Cover with a thin layer of vermiculite and mist the surface gently to settle the seeds. I usually pop mine under a cover to keep the moisture levels high and then onto a heat mat.

  • They take around a week to germinate and are then moved to slightly cooler conditions to grow on with plenty of light and airflow. especially in autumn when they are more prone to damping off. This can be prevented by using a fan, leaving the greenhouse door and window open, or simply popping them outside for a few hours on a nice day, and letting the soil dry out a little between waterings.




Planting out and growing Snapdragons

Snapdragons take around 100 - 120 days to flower but will grow much slower over winter. Seedlings started in Autumn will flower in late Winter/ Early spring time and those sowed in Spring will flower midsummer and Autumn.


Snaps can be planted out quite early when they are still quite small, they will build up their roots under the soil ready for when the weather warms. They are best planted out in autumn to late winter with a little protection just from snow and ice but they will withstand cold temperatures.


They thrive in full sun to partial shade. Ensure they receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily for optimal growth and abundant blooms. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water at the base of the plants to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases.


Feed snapdragons with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season to support healthy growth and prolific flowering.


For a bushy plant with lots of blooms plants can be pinched when they have grown 2-3 sets of leaves and are a couple of inches tall. However if you prefer a large central stalk then don't pinch out. Once this is cut the re growth will then form shorter bushier stems.


Snapdragon Appleblossom

Cutting and Conditioning Snapdragons

When cutting ensure you cut deep rather than deadheading, this will promote longer stems. Harvest when around 1/3 of the flowers are open - no sooner as premature harvesting can lead to poor colour development and reduced flower size as flowers continue to open.


Stems should conditioned in a cool dark place in lots of water and should be kept upright as they are geotrophic and will curve upwards if laid at any angle

 


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