Antirrhinum snapdragon

Height 15cm-l.2m (6-48in)

Planting distance 15-45cm (6-18in)

Flowers midsummer until first frost

Well-drained soil enriched with manure

Full sun or light shade

Hardy annual

Snapdragons are one of our most ancient garden plants and, if they were not so susceptible to rust, would still be one of the most popular. Coming in an enormous range of colours, and a variety of sizes, they make excellent plants for mixed borders and formal beds throughout the summer. The taller varieties can form a spectacular display along the back of a herbaceous border, medium-sized varieties are useful for formal and informal bedding schemes, while dwarf varieties are ideal as edging and carpeting or for rockeries.

Popular varieties

Snapdragons grown in gardens have all been developed from Antirrhinum majus. They are classified in three groups according to plant size. Some come as single colours, others as mixed colours. Below is a selection of readily available varieties.

TALL VARIETIES reach 90cm-1.2m (3-4ft) high and are good as cut flowers.

‘Giant Forerunner’ has densely clustered flowers in a wide range of mixed colours.

‘Liberty Mixed’ are sturdy plants, thick-stemmed and with long flower spikes in a range of colours. Early flowering.

‘Madame Butterfly’ has double blooms resembling azaleas in mixed colours.

‘Ruffled Super Tetra’ has large ruffled, veined flowers in mixed colours.

INTERMEDIATE VARIETIES are the most popular group. They reach 38-45cm (15-18in) high.

‘Black Prince’ is a compact plant with deep crimson flowers and bronze foliage.

‘Bright Eyes’ is an F1 hybrid with bright yellow flowers marked with red in the centre.

‘Cinderella’ forms bushy plants with dense flower spikes in a range of colours.

‘Cheerio’ has large bright flowers in mixed colours.

‘Coral Monarch’ has warm coral-pink flowers and is resistant to rust.

‘Coronette’ is a neat plant with flowers in mixed colours. It is both rust and weather resistant.

‘Crimson Monarch’ has crimson flowers and is rust resistant.

‘Forest Fire’ has bright scarlet flower spikes that fade to orange as they age.

‘Lavender Monarch’ has lilac-blue flowers and strong resistance to rust.

‘Monarch Mixed’ include white, yellow, coral, scarlet and crimson. Like other

‘Monarch’ strains, they are bred to be resistant to rust.

‘Popette’ is an F2 hybrid, with uniform, early and long-lasting flowers that are bicoloured white and purple-rose.

‘Princess’ has a profusion of long-lasting flowers in a wide range of mixed colours.

‘Rembrandt’ has orange flowers with yellow tips to the petals.

‘Sawyers Mixed’ is a rust-resistant mixture in a range of strong colours.

‘Vanity Fair’ produces strong, branching plants, densely set with flowers in white, yellow, pink, salmon, scarlet and near bronze.

‘White Monarch’ has white flowers and strong rust resistance.

‘Yellow Monarch’ has clear yellow flowers and strong rust re

DWARF VARIETIES reach only 15cm (6in) high, and have a compact bushy habit.

‘Dwarf Bedding’ is a mixed variety coming in an enormous range of colours.

‘Floral Carpet’ has a profusion of large flowers in mixed colours.

‘Little Darling’ is early flowering and comes in mixed colours. It is rust resistant.

‘Magic Carpet’ is of trailing habit and available in mixed colours.

‘Pixie’ has open-petalled, butterfly-like flowers early in the season. It is free-flowering and comes in crimsons, reds, oranges, yellows and whites.

‘Royal Carpet’ is one of the best carpeting varieties, being vigorous, long-lasting, and rust resistant. It can be bought in mixed colours, in just orange (’Royal Carpet Orange’), or in just pink (’Royal Carpet Pink’).

‘Sweetheart’ has small double azalea-type flowers in red, bronze, pink, yellow or white. It is rust resistant.

‘Tahiti’ mixtures are compact plants, closely packed with flowers in pure clear colours as well as some bicolours.

‘Tom Thumb’ is a neat plant bearing flowers in bright mixed colours.

‘Trumpet Serenade’ has open petalled, freesia-like flowers that are long-lasting and come in mixed colours. Height up to 30cm (12in).


Sow the seeds in trays under glass in late winter to early spring and keep at a temperature of 16-18°C (61-64°F). Water seeds gently with a fine spray. After they germinate, water with diluted liquid feed.

When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into boxes of potting compost. Harden off in a cold frame before planting out in late spring or grow on as pot plants in the greenhouse.

For early flowering snap-dragons, sow seeds in early and mid summer, and pot them in early autumn; if you have a warm sheltered site, they can be planted outdoors in autumn.

In the garden, set tall varieties 45cm (18in) apart, intermediate varieties 25cm (10in) apart and dwarf varieties 20cm (8in) apart.

For the best results plant snapdragons in well-drained light to medium soil enriched with rotted manure, though any well-cultivated garden soil is suitable. The site should be in sun or light shade.

When the plants reach 7.5-10cm (3-4in) high, pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushy growth. Dead-head to prolong the flowering season and stake tall varieties in exposed positions.

Pests and diseases

Rust is the disease usually associated with snapdragons. If your garden is troubled by this disease, grow only rust-resistant varieties. Damping-off may affect seedlings, and mildew can be a problem with young plants. Look out for aphids on young growth in summer.

21. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Featured Articles, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Antirrhinum snapdragon


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