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Growing up, snapdragons were a feature of my mother’s garden. Various colors and bicolors welcomed visitors from the front bed, whichever military base we were stationed. Of course, my cousin and sisters made their dragon jaws move and we had conversations with the flowers. In reflection, I grew up thinking that snapdragons only had the traditional “dragon jaw,” they could not get any taller than 10 inches and had little to no scent. Boy was I wrong! My foray into growing my own cut flowers has opened my imagination to hundreds of different cultivars, colors and heights for snapdragons. Here are their stories!

Mouse over measurements in Imperial units to see Metric units. Doing my best to be friendly to the rest of the world!

Got questions you want answered? Enter them in the comment section below the article.

Want more data? Contact me for the password to the beta Cut Flower Data Database!

Highlights:

  • Fragrant cut flower varieties: Chantilly and Rocket series
  • Tallest cut flower varieties: Admiral, Maryland and Potomac
  • 4 – 5 weeks from sow in a ‘288’ tray to planting out. Transplant plugs before seedlings become root bound. Delayed flowering and reduced quality will occur if seedlings are held too long in the tray.
  • The three biggest factors influencing flower initiation are daylength,  light quality and temperature. High light levels are necessary to initiate optimum flowering. Initiation generally occurs when plants have developed 5 – 10 pairs of leaves. Overcast weather during this time frame may affect the outcome of the crop.
  • Snaps bend to the light (like tulips) and are gravity sensitive. To prevent spikes from getting all wonky in the field or greenhouse, use netting to keep them straight and upright. Be sure to check after strong wind storms!

GETTING THE 411

Understanding the Cultivars

When choosing the right snapdragon, you need to appreciate not only the color and height, but the floret type and group. Snapdragons have three different “faces” for their flowers and four groups which identifies if they are cool or warm weather plants. Check out the resources below to help you understand the table of the top varieties available for cut flower growers.

Traditional Dragon

This is the traditional “dragon” floret type for Antirrhinum majus. Also called "trumpet" floret type.

Open Butterfly

Open Butterfly floret of Chantilly White

Double Azalea

Double Azalea floret type of the Madam Butterfly series
CultivarGroupDays to first bloomPlant heightStem lengthStem yieldFragrantFloret type
Admiral series
Growing Guide
1110 - 120 days48 - 54 in45+ inTraditional Dragon
Animation series§
Growing Guide
131 - 40 in45+ in6+Traditional Dragon
Antibes series§
Growing Guide
131 - 40 inTraditional Dragon
Aromas series†4100 - 110 days
24 - 36 in
20 inYesTraditional Dragon
Avignon series
Growing Guide
231 - 40 inTraditional Dragon
Calima series
Growing Guide
3,4120 days39 - 60 in17+ in4+Traditional Dragon
Cannes series
Growing Guide
331 - 40 inTraditional Dragon
Chantilly series
Growing Guide
1,278 - 100 days*48 - 54 in45+ in7+YesOpen Butterfly
Costa series
Summer Costa
Growing Guide
2,3-4100 - 110 days28 - 91 in25+ in4+Traditional Dragon
La Bella series†280 - 100 days18 - 56 in15 inSlightOpen Butterfly
Madame Butterfly series
Growing Guide
Not specified (summer)93 - 100 days24 - 30 in20+ in6Double Azalea
Maryland series
Growing Guide
2120 days39 - 60 in22+ in4+Traditional Dragon
Opus series
Growing Guide
3,492 - 100 days24 - 30 in22+ in5+Traditional Dragon
Orleans series
Orleans Early series
Growing Guide
3,431 - 40 inTraditional Dragon
Overture series
Growing Guide
290 - 130 days24 - 30 in16+ in11+Traditional Dragon
Potomac series
Early Potomac
Growing Guide
3,494 - 120 days40 - 60 in26+ in4+ highly
variable by color
Traditional Dragon
Rocket series
Growing Guide
3,4120 days24 - 36 in20+ in9Slight**Traditional Dragon
If "early" in the name,
use the lowest group
number. "Summer"
is highest.
* Harris seed says
140 days to maturity
** “Cinnamon spice”
according to Park Seed
† I am sourcing these cultivars as they are not widely available at this time.
§ Greenhouse cultivar

When grown as a one-cut, stems can be as long as the full height of the plants. When grown for multiple cuts per plant, stems vary in length.

SNAPDRAGON GROUPS

“Group” Meanings for Cut Flower Snapdragon Varieties

Low light and heat levels experienced in winter

Group 1 snapdragons are best for short daylength, low light intensity and temperatures of 40 to 55°F.

Day: 50 to 55°F
Night: 45 to 50°F
Light: 1,000 to 1,500 foot-candles for seedlings; beneficial to 10 hours when planted out
Support: Two support nets are the minimum, but three are preferred. Mesh sizes of 4 x 4 in. to 6 x 6 in. are most commonly used. Place the first level at 4 to 6 in. above the soil level. Place the second level at 6 in. above the first level. Raise the upper level of the support nets as the stems lengthen.
Harvest

Moderate light and heat levels experienced in spring and fall

Group 2 snapdragons are best for short days, moderate light levels and temperatures of 50 to 60°F.

Day: 55 to 60°F
Night: 50 to 55°F
Light: 1,500 to 3,000 foot-candles for seedlings; beneficial to 10 hours when planted out
Support: Two support nets are the minimum, but three are preferred. Mesh sizes of 4 x 4 in. to 6 x 6 in. are most commonly used. Place the first level at 4 to 6 in. above the soil level. Place the second level at 6 in. above the first level. Raise the upper level of the support nets as the stems lengthen.

Transitional periods between spring and summer and summer to fall; requires high levels of daylight and tolerates heat

Group 3 snapdragons are best for moderate daylength, moderate light levels and temperatures of 55 to 65°F.

Day: 60 to 65°F
Night: 55 to 60°F
Light: 2,500 to 3500 foot-candles for seedlings; beneficial to 14 hours when planted out
Support: Two support nets are the minimum, but three are preferred. Mesh sizes of 4 x 4 in. to 6 x 6 in. are most commonly used. Place the first level at 4 to 6 in. above the soil level. Place the second level at 6 in. above the first level. Raise the upper level of the support nets as the stems lengthen.

High light and heat levels experienced in summer

Group 4 snapdragons are best for long days, high light and temperatures greater than 60°F.

Day: 65°F and above
Night: 60°F and above
Light: 3,000 to 5,000 foot-candles for seedlings; beneficial to 14+ hours when planted out
Blooming daily light integral: 14–16 mols/day
Blooming light intensity: 4,000–6,000 foot candles
Support: Two support nets are the minimum, but three are preferred. Mesh sizes of 4 x 4 in. to 6 x 6 in. are most commonly used. Place the first level at 4 to 6 in. above the soil level. Place the second level at 6 in. above the first level. Raise the upper level of the support nets as the stems lengthen.

HOW TO GET SNAPDRAGONS IN EARLY SPRING, FALL AND EVEN WINTER

Extending Your Season

To extend your season, the solution is to grow snapdragons covering all four groups. Several of the culture guides linked in this blog show the spread. I recommend the free resource from Johnny’s Seed found here.

While snapdragons are not truly winter hardy, they can thrive in mid-30°F and 40°F weather. I live in USDA Zone 6a (formerly 7b), and on top of a foothill of the Bullrun Mountains. Until last year, the DC metro area went over 1000 days without one falling below freezing! And with the most recent winter forecast showing a warmer winter season, I feel confident that I can overwinter my snaps to include in my early spring bouquets with the daffodils and tulips. How? If the temperatures drop below freezing, I will cover the young plants with a low tunnel and frost cloth.

This year, I am planning ahead for my color pallets. It drove me nuts that I didn’t this year. So, I have five main color themes. Below, you can see some of the types I’ve identified that fit my “early morning sunshine” and “jewel tones” categories. Specifically, I’m on the hunt for a buttercream snapdragon and am excited to try out the Chantilly Cream Yellow and the Orleans Early Lemon. I’m also excited to try out some of the bicolors!

Season

Sow Seed Date

Transplant Out Date

First Bloom Target Date

Fall/Winter
15 OCT 15 NOV 15 MAR††
Spring/Fall
15 MAR 15 APR§§ 1  JUN
Summer
15 MAR 15 APR§§ 1  JULY

†† Recall that snapdragons require daylength and temperature to bloom. Dates are set by daylength and prayed for temperatures in the field (I do not use a heated greenhouse)! While February has daylength here in Northern Virginia over 10 hours, temperatures are typically the coolest of the year. Thus, I have these target dates based upon data I’ve collected over the years. To figure out your daylength, I use TimeAndDate.com. Further, I have found that the spring solstice is a really good target date for the daffodils and other early hardy annuals and perennials to begin flowering.

§§ This is close to my last frost date and will move depending on the forecast that week.

Fall/Winter (I):

White

Cool [I] White, formerly called Oakland White © Ball Horticultural Company

Coral

Cool [I] Coral Rose, formerly called Oakland Bronze with Yellow Eye © Ball Horticultural Company

Yellow

Cool [I] Yellow © Ball Horticultural Company

Velvet

Costa Velvet I-II © Evanthia B.V.

Spring & Fall (I, II):

White

Chantilly White [I-II] © American Takii

Light Salmon

Chantilly Light Salmon [I-II] © American Takii

Cream Yellow

Chantilly Cream Yellow [I-II] © American Takii

Bicolor Yellow

Avignon Bicolor Yellow II © Evanthia B.V.

Hot Summer (III, IV):

White Improved

Orleans White Imp. IV © Evanthia B.V.

Early Orange

Potomac Early Orange [III-IV] © Ball Horticultural Company

Lemon

Orleans Early Lemon III-IV © Evanthia B.V.

Plumblossom

Potomac Plumblossom [III-IV] © Ball Horticultural Company

PATENTS & PBRs FOR SNAPS

Patents & Plant Breeder Rights (PBRs) for Snapdragons

For a deep dive into patents and PBRs, check out my previous blog: Breeding plants in a world of plant patents and PBRs

Many of the snapdragons have a trademark on the brand names. That is an indication to check for patent and PBR status which limits whether you can keep seed and/or propagate plants.

I used the resources outlined in my blog to check out what is going on with snapdragons. The EU shows 39 entries with only 2 that are current.

Questions from the Curious

Questions & Answers

It depends. Once established in the bed and hardened off, snapdragons can withstand sub-freezing temperatures and a light frost (28 to 32°F). If you make sure they stay well-watered during cold spells and add a layer of mulch (or low tunnel/frost cloth), they will survive until the chill has passed.To ensure flowering of snapdragons during the cooler months, be sure to plant a group 1 or 2 that enjoy colder temps and shorter daylight periods.

If you want to overwinter your snapdragons, consider covering young plants with frost cloth or bring containers indoors or to a protected spot when temperatures dip below freezing.

  • Snaps bend to the light (like tulips) and are gravity sensitive. To prevent spikes from bending towards the light and the heavens, keep them vertical and brightly lit from above. DO NOT LAY ON THEIR SIDE!
  • All snapdragons are ethylene sensitive which it makes flowers “shatter” or fall off all at once. Keep away from fruit! Newer hybrids are less susceptible than older cultivars.
  • Post harvest: Treat with floral preservative containing an anti-ethylene agent, an antimicrobial and a sugar
  • Storage: Chill at 39–43°F, and at a relative humidity of 75–85%

Aphids, Thrips and Spider Mites

The most common diseases affecting snapdragons are: Botrytis Blight, Downy Mildew, Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus, Powdery Mildew, Pythium, Rust and Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Other common problems include: high media pH, Iron or Boron deficiency and excessive side shoots indicative of high fertility levels or excessive moisture.

Complexities of snapdragon flower design and scent for their pollinatorThe native species Antirrhinum majus, is a bush found in the dry, rocky areas of western Europe in Portugal, Spain and southern France. The plant is specialized for its pollinator – bumble bees. In its native range of the Iberian Peninsula, Bobus hortorum, Bombus muscorum, Bombus pascuorum, Bombus ruderatus and Bombus terrestris are the frequent and common species.Snapdragon spikes are racemous inflorescences consisting of tubes made up of five petals. The characteristic dragon jaw of the flower is called the “lower lip” or “lower lobe” petal. For a bumble bee to get to the nectar of the flower, it uses the lower lip as a landing pad. It then crawls up the palate and pushes against the upper lip or lobe to enter the mouth of the flower tube. In doing so, the bee brushes against stamens and petal tissue emitting the scent oil. After feasting on nectar, the bumble bee is then bathed in pollen and scent by this amazing flower design. Once back at the hive, the scent entices other bees to visit the plant. Mother nature is truly amazing!The mechanics of the dragon jaw require the size and strength of the bumble bee to open. Honeybees and many other smaller, solitary bees and wasps are unable to heft the heavy lobes up. In some instances, lazier bumble bees enter the flower tube from a side (which requires less lifting) and prop open the flower. Smaller pollinators may use this opening to access the nectar. However, this isn’t a common occurrence and the opening may not be permanent depending on the size of the bumble bee.The snapdragon scent profile is highly complex and made up of numerous volatile organic compounds that evaporate easily in warm weather. Scent increases as the flowers mature where the stamens are actively shedding pollen, and the ovary is ready for fertilization. Since bumble bees are active after sunrise and late into the afternoon, mature snapdragon petals emit scent four times greater during the day than at night and in a near match to the activity levels of bumble bees from 11 am to 4 pm.

Yes! There are several cultivars of trailing snapdragon. Click on the link to see the growing guide.

As noted in the Extending Your Season section above, getting consistent blooms in September depends on your latitude (daylength), temperature and snapdragon variety.

Here are three examples depending on where the snaps are planted.

Location

Daylength on 15 SEPT

Average Low Temp on 15 SEPT

Match to Group

Muskegon, MI
12:30:16 52°F to 62°F Group 3, long days and cool nights
Leesburg, VA
12:26:53 65°F Group 4, long days and hot
San Antonio, TX
11:27:59 70°F Group 4, shorter days and hot

Note, that for snapdragons to grow in southern latitudes, sow indoors in August and plant out once evening temperatures drop into the 60s.

If you are cutting short stems on snapdragons, you likely are growing a short or middle variety. Cultivars come in four heights: dwarf, short, middle and tall. Look for cultivars that say they are good for cut flowers. This blog lists the top cultivars used in cut flower production.

The tallest snapdragon cultivars are: Admiral (48 – 54 in), Chantilly (48 – 54 in) and Potomac (40 – 60 in).

Snapdragon Rust is a fungus that’s been around since the 1800s. Puccinia antirrhini cause small, yellow spots on the leaves. Unless you are paying close attention, you won’t notice the yellow spots until they mature into chocolate-brown pustules. The spores that emerge from these pustules are spread by wind mostly but also possibly by rain and insects. The infection and incubation of these spores occurs best when temperatures are between 50°F and 75°F. Once temperatures exceed 90°F (ish), the spores cannot survive.

Prevention of rust on snapdragons
The recommendations from most cooperative extensions is the same prevention that you do for powdery mildew. See below.

  • Frequently remove all rust-infected leaves and badly infected plants and destroy by burning, rapid composting, or burying. At the end of the growing season, carefully clean up and destroy all crop debris.
  • Sterilize benches and propagation rooms with an appropriate greenhouse disinfectant.
  • Keep the humidity within the greenhouse at less than 80%.
  • Increasing air movement by adding fans which will prevent moisture from condensing on the foliage.
  • Practice only surface watering and avoid splashing water onto foliage. If overhead irrigation is necessary, water in the early morning when plants will dry quickly.
  • Space plants far enough apart to allow for good air circulation.

I struggled in answering this question. Whose favorite colors?! So here is the current low stock list for seed by order of least available. Please keep in mind that this likely reflects the needs of growers for the winter/spring season and therefore the pastel color pallet.

  1. Yellows including Lemon and Light Yellow
  2. White
  3. Pink and Rose
  4. Reds
  5. Violets and Purple
  6. Oranges including Orange Sunset and Glorious Orange
  7. Bicolors and unique types such as Appleblossom and Purple Twist

CAN'T FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?

Can’t Find What You’re Looking For?

If I didn’t answer your question, please enter it in the comment section below. I promise to address them in the Question & Answer section!

Many of the main sources I use for seed do not carry all the varieties and colors that I want to offer my customers. So, I’ve decided that as of January 2023, I will be a licensed “seedman” in the Commonwealth of Virginia and able to sell seed to other growers.

One of the offerings I’ll have is for a sampler by color for snapdragons and gillyflower (fragrant stock). I want to see which variety does best in my micro-climate and if you’re like me, you don’t need 1000 seed to do a test! These samplers will include 25 seeds of each cultivar in similar colors, each labeled with the cultivar information.

The first seed sale will open 11 JAN 2023. Stay up-to-date by subscribing to my newsletter! And there are still free milkweed seeds available, so signup today!

Thyme in a Bottle is a tradename of Searfoss & Associates. Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.

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