Snap, Crackle, Pop

Though this phrase might conjure up images of a certain breakfast cereal, it should also communicate thoughts of a durable, widely adaptable flower for the landscape – the snapdragon.  It might also bring back fond memories of gardening with your grandparents; snapdragons have been around forever and are popular across the generations.  This worthy species has come full circle, as the National Garden Bureau has designated 2019 as the Year of the Snapdragon.

 

Native to the Mediterranean, snapdragons are winter hardy in the south, and considered annuals in the Midwest.

 

Snapdragons are kinda fun to get kids interested in gardening, as the flower parts can be manipulated in such a way to make it look like the flower is talking, as they are divided roughly in half and tubular in design.  If you use your imagination (and normally kids are good at this) you can change your voice to sound like a character on Sesame Street and gain their attention.

snapdragons various colors

Snapdragons are great for inclusion in all sorts of gardens including ones that perk up a fading bulb display and cutting gardens, especially the taller cultivars.  Their availability in all colors really adds to their wide appeal.  With all the recent attention on pollinator gardens, bees and hummingbirds are often seen visiting their flowers, so that’s another plus.  If that wasn’t enough, they’re not a favored food of deer or rabbits!

 

In our area, they can tolerate a bit of cold, so planting can occur a week or two after with pansies and violas, making them a good choice to early spring color.  In order to keep them blooming all season long, removal of the spent flowers is recommended, along with a thin layer of a wood chip mulch to keep them cool and moist in the hot summer sun.  Light, monthly fertilization will meet their nutritional needs, similarly to other bedding plants such as vinca and geraniums.

 

If you’re looking for flowers with multiple colors, different flower shapes, different sizes, and great fragrance, you can’t go wrong planting snapdragons.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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