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All About Snapdragons

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

Did you know snapdragons come in 4 growing groups according to day length and heat tolerance? I learned this in my first year of flower farming when my first crop didn't thrive. I was confused because I always understood them to be easy to grow. So I researched and discovered that there's much more to know about snapdragons than I'd previously thought.

Snapdragons are the most foundational flower in the field for me. They're very hardy and have a long-lasting vase life, plus I must mention the fantastic array of color selection! They're deer-resistant(a huge bonus)and not difficult to grow.

The growing groups can be started from seed simultaneously but will bloom according to their light and heat preferences. Most will give a second or even third flush with a hard cutting.

Chantilly Snapdragon
Chantilly flowers present more open-faced which gives off a ruffled look

Groups 1-2, the earliest, are Chantilly( pic above) and Costa(pic below). They prefer cooler weather and shorter days of spring and fall. When the temps heat up as summer moves in, they slow in their flower production but pick back up in the fall for a second or third flush. I over-winter these two varieties for an early spring crop.

Costa Snapdragon with it's yellow and peach hues

Groups 3-4 are Potomac, Rocket, and Madame Butterfly summer heat lovers. (All pictured below) When the early season snaps tire from the heat, I can count on the heat-loving varieties to pick up the slack. I genuinely love Potomac; they're a gift that keeps on giving. I can count on six or more blooms from one plant; the more I cut, the more they produce! As seedlings, I pinch all of my snapdragons back when they reach about 4 inches tall to encourage branching and effectively deliver more flowers.

Potomac Snapdragons
Potomac Snapdragons love the heat!

Snapdragons are slow growers, so start indoors about 10-12 weeks before planting out if transplanting. If direct sowing, cast the seeds out as early as the soil thaws and can be worked. You can also seed in the fall to overwinter, and the seedlings will pop up soon after the soil thaws in the spring. I prefer starting them in a controlled environment to get the most for my money. It's worth the extra work of transplanting, which promises the highest yield.

Robust and tall Rocket Snaps!

Snapdragons are winter hardy to zone 4, so seeds can be started in late winter, and transplants set out 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. I generally begin mine in late February and set out in mid-April. They can also be started in the late summer and planted in the fall, six weeks before your first frost date; the timing helps establish strong roots. The small transplants will freeze and overwinter, returning strong in the early spring! Be sure to cover with a row cover or deep mulch.


In conclusion, snapdragons are versatile and easy to grow once you understand which varieties grow best in the season of your choice. I've featured cut garden tall varieties in this article. Still, the same principles can apply to landscape and trailing varieties if you prefer a more compact look for your garden beds and containers.

These are a pollinator's favorite and will always attract hummingbirds and honeybees. My snap plots are always buzzing, which is music to my ears!

Madame Butterfly with her tiny ruffled blooms

Some Quick Facts:

Snapdragons belong to the Plantaginaceae family, the family of plantains, and they are edible!

The scientific name Antirrhinum is a Latin word for "counterfeiting nose" or "like a snout" because they resemble a dragon's face and that of a mouth as it opens and closes.

Light is required to germinate, so lightly cover to hold seeds in place.

Days to maturity: 110-120 days

Days to germination: 7-14 days @ 70-75 degrees

Light preference: Sun/Part Shade

Plant spacing: 4-12"(landscape 12", cutting garden 6-9" but can be grown closer)

Vase life: 7-10 days

Happy Planting!

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