A snapdragon (Antirrhinum) also known as dragon flower is easy to grow and care for. It feels comfortable in any climate conditions.
I raise seedlings from seeds by myself. It’s a simple and exciting process. If you know what to do and when, you’ll grow your seedlings without any difficulties.
Grow Magnificent Snapdragons
First of all, you have to buy the seeds.
But if you meet a beautifully blooming antirrhinum – you can collect seeds from it. Their germinating capacity keeps for 3-4 years. You can store them in a paper envelope. We do the same in our center.
Don’t rely on your memory, just sign each envelope and indicate the date. Believe me, it can be very useful.
Advice №1: Don’t be in a hurry while collecting the seeds. Take capsules very carefully and put them somewhere. They can open easily and fall out.
Collect the seeds from the lowest capsules as they mature faster. The color of a seed capsule should be yellow-brown. It means that these seeds are ripe.
Advice №2: Not all the plants have seeds suitable for further growing. Hybrid seeds allow you to have a plant as it was presented on the picture (when you buy them), but you can’t use its seeds (collected from the plant) next year.
It’s possible to get snapdragons from such seeds but they won’t bloom as beautifully as they can. It relates to the majority of Dutch seeds.
Well, you have the seeds. What to do next?
The further procedure is the same for any conditions: it doesn’t matter where you decided to plant your snapdragons in the container or directly in the flower bed.
The plant is cold-tolerant and can stand the temperature fall till 23-26 degrees F (-3-5 °С). Thus, you can sow snapdragons directly in the flower bed.
However, I recommend growing seedlings. Why?
First of all, we can control the process and the plants will grow as we like. In the bed, some seeds can sprout up, others may not. Ones can do that earlier, others later. They can be settled irregularly and be different in their height.
Moreover, blooming will be postponed for two months. For example, if you sow the seeds in the middle of March, blooming will start in August. That’s why I support the idea with seedlings. It’s easy, simple and fun.
Growing seedlings helps to avoid all the problems listed above.
For snapdragons, you should take a light soil mixture with good air permeability. You can buy such mixture in a specialized shop or any supermarket.
You also can prepare your soil by yourself: take 50% of soil from your garden and add 50% of mold plus some peat.
For sure, many of you know it but I’ll remind.
The soil from your garden has to be processed: for example disinfected with a special compound from a garden shop or heated in the oven for 30-40 minutes at the temperature of 212 degrees F (100 °С).
It’s necessary to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungus that may be present in your soil. The soil sold in shops is sterilized and doesn’t require any processing.
For snapdragons, it’s unnecessary to use special soil. General-purpose soil for seedlings or organic soil for house plants is suitable. Its pH has to be chosen neutral (i.e. 7) or a little bit acid – 6.
Containers and pots
At first, the seeds are sown in one container. If you are going to grow dragon flowers in the pot all the time, you can use without more ado the container where the plants will grow.
In this case, your container depth must be not less than 15-20 inches (40-50 cm). The width and length of the pot calculate from the fact that it should be the distance of 6 inches (15 cm) between the plants. Don`t forget to step back the same space from the edges.
The further process needs plastic or peat nursery pots. They can be single or stripe form. These pots are called temporary. They need stands or trays, as they have large holes at their bottoms for dripping excess water.
Plastic pots are reusable. You can wash them with hot water and dry after using. You may use them again next year.
Peat pots for seedlings are designed for burrowing into the flower beds, where they dissolve eventually giving the additional nutrition for the plant roots.
In the first stage, I often use a large plastic container, then peat cassettes.
By the way, you may not buy any pots at all. Use a food container of suitable size for sowing. For subsequent growing, you can take different food packaging with holes on the bottom you should do yourself.
Of course, purchased special containers look more aesthetically pleasing.
The depth of your general container should be at least 6 inches (15 cm).
You can set a layer of drainage at the bottom of the pot. Plastic or peat containers must be not less than 6 inches (15 cm) in depth and 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) in diameter.
The whole process consists of a few steps and takes 1-2 months.
When should seeds be started
The first questions that we examine are when do we sow seeds and what is necessary for it? I often hear such phrases and questions from the beginners:
“I’ve read somewhere that the seeds should be sown in early March, and seedlings should be planted in the flower bed in the middle of May. That is, two months later. It’s exactly what I did. But some my plants died, others bloomed badly. Can you tell me what I did wrong?”
“What does it mean: sow the seeds according to your temperature zone?”
“I bought the flower seeds in one online shop. There was the instruction on the package: to sow seeds from February till April. How should I understand this? When exactly should I start?”
Let’s investigate all these things. The questions regard individual approach.
The mathematics here is following:
- Snapdragon seed germination takes 7-14 days.
- Further plant development takes 1-1.5 months (30-45 days).
- Seedlings growing takes 37-60 days in all.
Dragon flowers can be planted in the garden when the temperature outside is above 50 degrees F (+10 °C), night temperature should already establish as stable above 32 degrees F (0 °C).
In each region, spring comes at the different time! Therefore, the seed-sellers make such extensive recommendations: from February till April.
Let me give an example to make clear how to calculate the time for seed starting. I add an example:
- I decide to sow my seeds on 15, March. Earlier, I glanced at my lunar calendar. A waxing moon is favorable for seed planting, that’s why I’ve chosen this date.
According to the previous information, the first sprouts will appear on March, 22-29 (in 7-14 days after sowing).
- The seedlings will be growing for 30-45 days.
- It turns out that in the beginning or in the middle of May my seedlings will be ready for transplanting in the flower bed outside.
- If the stable warm weather starts in your climate zone at the beginning of May, your suitable date for sowing seeds is the middle of March like in my example.
If you live in the north regions, it would be better to sow seeds in the late March. And if you are in the south, you can start seeds at the end of February or even in its middle.
Everything is individual but can be calculated if you know how much time seeds need for germination and growing.
The dwarf varieties of snapdragons give blooming at 70-80 days after the first germination, tall ones – through 100-120 days.
Everything is easier in the case with cultivation in containers:
We consider that low-growing varieties bloom in 70-80 days after germination and tall ones – in 100-120 days. Let`s add 7-14 days for sprout appearance.
Thus, if the seeds, for example of dwarf snapdragons, were sown on 1, February. Then they would come up at 7-14-th of February. Their blooming can be expected at the end of April or at the beginning of May.
In the case with snapdragon indoor cultivation, we think not about the weather outside, but about the time when we want to see its blooming!
How to sow the seeds and what to do next
A morning is the best time for sowing seeds.
- Fill your container with prepared soil and water it.
- When the soil slightly dried out, arrange your seeds on the ground surface as much evenly as you can. Snapdragon seeds are tiny, so just pour them out very accurately.
- Powder the planting area with a small amount of soil. Snapdragon seeds don’t need a thick cover; they need air and light instead!
- At the temperature of 68-72 degrees F (20-22 °C) seed sprouting takes 7-14 days, so don’t worry and be patient.
Look after the soil at this time: it shouldn’t be entirely dry. Pour warm water in your pulverizer and spray the ground surface if it’s needed.
Your container must stand on a well-lit place, such as a windowsill. You can cover it with glass or plastic wrap. Remove the cover several times a day to tidy up condensate (if it formed) and to ventilate soil.
Wait for a few days after sprouting appearance. Give seedlings some time for growth. Wait for the first two “true” leaves appearance and run pricking out – the process of transplant seedlings to the larger individual pots or containers.
You need peat or plastic pots to do this. Their size should be at least 2×2 inches or more (5×5 cm or 6×6 cm).
What is pricking out
This procedure is necessary to all the small plants growing in the general container.
The roots of seedlings become longer day by day, so they need more and more space. That’s why we should do the pricking out process.
- Fill your individual pots (or cassette) with the same soil as you used earlier.
- Moisturize it slightly.
- Make a small hole on the ground surface right in the middle of each pot. You can use the reverse side of a knife or a pen for that.
- Choose the most powerful and beautiful sprouts and gently lift them from the container. Doing it with a teaspoon is possible. Also, you can use your hands.
Proceed carefully; try not to damage the delicate roots.
- Selected sprouts put into the prepared holes.
- Press the soil around by your fingers.
- Add some more soil if it’s necessary.
That`s all! Congratulations! As a result, we have the best sprouts.
Each one is in its individual pot or cassette’s cell.
Don`t water sprouts during the first week.
Continue to spray the ground with your pulverizer because snapdragon plants can easily get “blackleg” disease and die.
Care for the seedlings
When the plants become stronger, you can start watering. Also, the time for fertilizing comes.
In 7-10 days later after pricking out, you should feed your seedlings with a multipurpose mineral fertilizer. This procedure should be repeated one more time in 10-12 days.
What fertilizer to choose
You can easily use any fertilizer for the flowering plants. In its composition should be nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as a group of other substances.
Therefore, they are called complex. If you take an organic multipurpose fertilizer, you won’t make a mistake. Use it strictly according to its instruction.
If you want your snapdragons to have a lot of branches with side runners (they will give additional blooming), you should cut your plant tops.
To do that take away the upper 3-4 leaves by your fingers (look at the picture). This technique can be used after the appearance of 5-6 leaves on a plant.
You can throw these branches out or keep them.
You can plant these cuttings into the wet sand. They will give roots with time, and then you can receive some additional snapdragons.
On the stage of seedling, it’s already possible to distinguish dark and light colored flowers. It’s useful for understanding where to plant every flower if you have used a mix of seeds.
We want to spread our colors over our flower bed evenly!
Those plants that have the more dark color of their leaves, reddish stems and petioles will give dark-colored flowers. The other will give light colored flowers.
As I mentioned, the plants can be settled in the bed in the age of 30-45 days. You will feel that they are ready for this process: strong and healthy plants with seven leaves or more.
At first, before transplanting your plants outside on the garden bed, you should do some preliminary work.
The soil on your flower bed should be:
- Well-dug up in the depth of 11-16 inches (30-40 cm).
- Well-watered and then slightly dried.
- Acidity should be 6-7 pH.
The soil should be prepared before the day of planting.
Different types of soil are suitable for snapdragons, including loamy soil. There shouldn’t be large lumps on the surface of the ground. All should be prepared neatly.
If after digging up, some large clumps appear, break them up with a spade or work with a rake.
Choosing a place
If you want your snapdragons to bloom plentifully, you should choose a well-lighted place for your flower bed.
If you can’t find such place, set your flowers in a part-shadow area. Snapdragons feel good at those locations too.
Snapdragons don’t like drafts and cold winds, therefore, a bed near a house wall, or near a fence, or a green hedge will be the optimal choice.
I think the idea is clear: we should protect our plants from drafts.
When you plan your bed for snapdragons, keep in mind that you should leave a distance between plants. It should be:
- at least of 6 inches (15 cm) between dwarf snapdragons;
- at least of 16 inches (40 cm) between tall dragon flowers.
You should make holes in the ground (the depth is near 6 inches (15 cm) for planting. It’ll look stunning if you arrange your bed with flowers, planting them in 2-3 rows in the chess order.
If you’ve used some peat pots for your seedlings, you can set them into the prepared holes in your flower bed straight with these pots.
If your seedlings were in plastic pots, you should lift the plants up at first. Do it neatly. Remember about the tender snapdragon roots. Wet the soil in your pots the day before transplanting to make the process easier.
How to Take Care of Snapdragons
The only good news starts from this moment.
Snapdragons are easy-care plants. They can withstand short-term drought and temperature drops, as well.
Care for snapdragons comes to watering only. Antirrhinum likes wet soil very much. Their stems become juicier after a proper moistening.
Nevertheless, please remember about fungal diseases and don’t water your plants too much. Just keep an eye on the ground state and don’t let the soil dry.
Bear in mind that you must not spill water on the leaves and flowers while you’re watering your plants.
If you want to increase the number of flowers on your plants and their size, you should fertilize them. You may use any fertilizer you have. The procedure is carried out in 7-14 days after you’ve planted your flower bed.
The blooming of snapdragons begins in 70-100 days after sprouting. It lasts for a long time. You should remove deflorate inflorescences regularly to prolong the time of blooming.
In fall when plants lost their beauty, you can dig them out of your flower bed, or cut their green parts close to the ground surface if you wish to leave them for the next year.
What do you need to know about pests and diseases
Snapdragons are affected by a few pests and diseases. Rust and other fungal diseases can be a problem for you, especially during the wet seasons.
If you live in a damp or humid place, look for the resistant varieties of Snapdragon. Dragon flowers may also attract aphids and knot nematodes, and some others.
Don’t worry. All diseases can happen only at a crowded planting full of weeds. If you take care of your flowers, nothing can happen. The same is about pests. Take care, control watering and get rid of the weeds in time.
You can use an appropriate insecticide as you need. If you notice an infected plant, you should remove it from the flower bed immediately.
In my practice, I saw only ticks on snapdragons, and my plants were overwatered a couple of times. Thus, we can conclude that snapdragons have the high resistance to diseases.
There are two ways of snapdragon propagation:
- from seeds;
- from stem cuttings.
We have already talked a lot about propagation from seeds. I think you became an expert in this method. Well, let me say a few words about the process of “cutting stems”.
All the upper parts of stems are suitable for this purpose. You should cut a 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) stem. You can work up one end with any growth stimulator and put it into the wet sand. New roots will appear in some time. Then you can transplant these young plants in the flower bed.
I also want to add a few words about the snapdragon self-seeding.
If you don’t remove the deflorate inflorescences in time, seeds will ripen and fall to the ground. Next year, some new plants will appear in this place.
Is it good, or not? It’s your choice. Let’s do an experiment and see how it will turn out. In my practice, there were some good results, and a few unwanted: self-seeding plants didn’t bloom.