Snapdragons aka Antirrhinum majus


Snapdragons or better known as Antirrhinum are an easy flower to grow and they provide lots of colour with a distinctive scent. Good F1 plants can grow more than 2′ tall and if pinched out they bush out quite well.
Available in a wide range of colours I try and grow the same colours together to enhance the effect.

Where to Grow Snapdragons

These plants are good border flowers and can be planted in blocks, lines or singly.
Snapdragons do not need special soil conditions but flower best in sunshine.
Smaller varieties can be grown in containers.

How to Grow Snapdragons

I plant plug plants from the end of April to get quick flowers.
For raising Antirrhinums from seed read these tips
Pinch out the tallest growing shoot when it is about 3″ tall to encourage branching and thus more flowers.
Feed with a tomato fertilizer if you want extra blooms.
Water early in the day, plants should not be left wet overnight – distorted growth can result.

Snapdragons as Cut Flowers

Snapdragons make a colourful vase of flowers.
The scent of snapdragons is distinctive and pleasant particularly the vivid reds.
Harvest when one third to half the florets are open.
Single colour varieties  look best.

Buying Tips

Avoid buying from a florist if the stems are pale and yellowing.
F1 varieties should be robust and uniform.
Thompson Morgan supply various varieties including a bronzed leaf variety
Buy and grow from seeds for next year.

Varieties to Grow

• Antirrhinum Antirhodora Mixed – plants
• Antirrhinum Bronze Dragon – plants and seeds
• Antirrhinum Eternal – plants
• Antirrhinum Madame Butterfly F1 – plants
• Antirrhinum majus Brazilian Carnival – seeds category
• Antirrhinum majus Royal Bride – seeds category
• Antirrhinum nanum Black Prince – seeds category
• Antirrhinum nanum Double Sweetheart Mixed F1 – seeds category

Other suppliers of Seed
Chiltern Seeds
Sarah Ravens Garden
Nickys Garden

Antirhinum Majus

Has the Antirrhinum majus got a scent

Originally these self pollinating plants and flowers had no scent . As they do not need insects to pollinate them a scent has no purpose. Other members of the family such as Penstemon and Nemesia are also devoid of scent.

In the 1960’s several hybrids with tall spikes, ruffled double petals and a sweet perfume were developed. Growing over 30 inches tall and developing many spikes the three best varieties were

  1. Vanguard a deep cerise colour with a strong clove like scent
  2. Venus semi-double peach and pink with a softer perfume
  3. Super Jet with apricot yellow flowers

How the ‘Snapdragon’ got its name.

Was it Saint George spearing the Dragon and the blood fertilising the soil. Or perhaps it was the snap of the dragons jaws as it chased the fair maiden before St George arrived on the scene.

More likely is the Henry Phillips 1820’s version ‘on pressing the sides of the flower it opens like a gaping mouth, the stigma appearing to represent the tongue and on removing the pressure the lips of the corrola snap together …’

Sowing Antirrhinums

  • Sow seeds 6 weeks before half-hardy annuals, February is ideal.
  • Sow in modular trays 2 seeds to module. Thin out if both germinate.
  • Cover seeds until they germinate
  • If you have sown in seed trays, pot individually when 2 leaves can be held.
  • Give seedlings good light and warm roots and keep well watered.

Cultivation Tips

  • Deadhead the central spike to encourage side spikes. I nip out the top of the spike as well or it grows onward and upward.
  • Antirrhinum come in three sizes dwarf, intermediate and tall (which are best for cutting).
  • Stake the tall varieties or you will get bent flower stems
  • Antirrhinum like full sun but not extremely hot conditions.
  • Try ‘Madame Butterfly’ a frilly exotic series of seeds sown under glass or in doors 8 weeks before the last frost in your area.
  • Antirrrhinum look good against a white background and you can find white varieties ‘Snowflake’for your white garden
  • Antirrhinum are best grown as an annual although they are perennials. They get leggy and woody.
  • There is a shrubby, purple flowered, evergreen rock garden plant A. sempervirens


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