Most of us have childhood memories of squeezing the flowers of Antirrhinums together to make dragon mouths. Snapdragons are not only an endless source of amusement to children, they are ideal for bringing striking colour into the garden. They are one of nature's most stunning examples of colour and beauty; offering up multiple stems adorned with rows of perfectly formed, beautifully painted and subtly scented blooms.
While antirrhinums can be grown throughout the year in most parts of the country, March, April and May are ideal months to plant out the seedlings. They have just enough time to settle themselves in before the depths of winter, readying themselves for a glorious spring and early summer display. Snapdragons tolerate light frost so you can still plant these delightful beauties if you live in one of the colder parts of the country.
Choose from three types: dwarf; knee high and tall. Dwarf and knee high are available in warm, velvety mixed colours and vibrant single colours. The tall hybrids are just the thing for adding vertical form to your beds and are available in mixed colours and an eye-catching double form called 'Madam Butterfly'. They also make for excellent cut flowers, adding a touch of vibrancy to the dullest room.
Plant out your seedlings in a sunny position into soil that has been enriched with compost. It's always a good idea to nip out the growing tips when you plant the seedlings. This will encourage more branching, which in turn means more flower stalks. Whilst the new varieties are self cleaning (they don't need deadheading) if you do deadhead them anyway you will get a second flush of flowers that is often even better than the first flush.
Information Supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. Contact Bronwen Tuck, chairperson 083 678 5907.