No cottage garden would be complete without snapdragons. In a mixed flower bed, they add height and structure. They do the same for floral arrangements. Pulling the eye out to the perimeter and creating a frame for the other flowers.
Arranging with Snapdragons
Florists refer to snapdragons as line flowers. They are tall with multiple blooms per stem. Line flowers are used to create structure and movement within an arrangement. A florist might start an arrangement with greenery, add line flowers to determine the structure or boundaries of the arrangement, then add focal and filler flowers. Other line flowers include delphinium, larkspur, and stock. You’ll frequently see snapdragons forming the structure in sprays placed on easels for memorial ceremonies.
Snapdragons will tend to curl upward if not kept straight. I handle this by wrapping bunches in Kraft paper and stapling after cutting. I keep the flowers bunched until I’m ready to use them in bouquets or arrangements.
Snapdragons work great alone in a cylindrical vase. Unlike wider blooms, the bottom of the bouquet doesn’t need to spread out and the upright structure highlights the tall stems. Snapdragon stems don’t tend to create murky water, so a clear glass vase works fine.
The more simple or muted colors are extremely elegant in floral arrangements. If you want to make a refined neutral arrangement, ivory snapdragons are an easy way to create structure and texture.
Gardening with Snapdragons
After a couple of seasons of growing, I narrowed down to two varieties. I grow in the field without a hoop house or tunnel, so this impacts my variety selection. The Potomac series is a classic shaped snapdragon bloom. They are tall, provide a phenomenal flush in June, continue to produce a few shorter stems through July and August, and then stretch back out in September. The key to keeping them going is keeping them cut. I harvest as the bottom buds are starting to open. I cut near to the base of the plant when harvesting. Snapdragons will continue to create new stems throughout the season and I want the new stems to originate from the base. Stems during the heat of the summer are never as thick or robust as the first flush, but they are still tall enough for market bouquets.
The Madame Butterfly series has open faced azalea like blooms. Even those who don’t like the typical snapdragon or consider them too old fashioned love Madame Butterfly snapdragons. I have found that unlike other snapdragons, the top blooms don’t take on their full color if cut too early. So I grow only the lighter shades of ivory, rose, or bronze.
Both of these varieties are tall and I net them to keep the stems upright and straight. I would suggest home gardeners try Rocket mix. You’ll get the same performance and classic shape as the Potomac varieties. The stems are shorter than Potomac but still more than tall enough to make a bouquet or arrangement. Since they are slightly shorter you can interplant in a flower bed with other flowers to help hold them upright.
Snapdragons are easy to start from seed, but get out your reading glasses because the seeds are miniscule. Here, in southern Iowa, I sow my snapdragon seeds in early February and plant in the field Mid-April. This is about two weeks before our last frost or whenever the weather looks like it will stay above twenty degrees Fahrenheit. Snapdragons are very cold hardy and in warmer climates they can be planted in the fall for spring blooms. I keep frost cloth ready to protect seedlings in case we have a super cold snap.
If you haven't given snapdragons a chance in awhile, I encourage you to relook at the options available and try them both in the garden and arrangements.