Snapdragons are among the most beautiful flowers to grow in the home garden. However, many don’t know how easy it is to grow Snapdragons from seed and care for them in Central Texas.
Two types of Snapdragon plants
There are two types of snapdragons bush and tall. The bush one has a mounding growth habit, making it a good choice for borders. Its blooms start showing up early in the season.
The tall snapdragon grows tall and may reach three feet in height. It grows all winter long to put on a fantastic show in early spring, finally.
When to start the snapdragon seeds?
Snapdragon is a hardy annual or a cool-season flower, so you should treat them like you would your fall crops. Start the seeds whenever you start brassicas, lettuce, and leafy greens. The usual time is the end of August beginning of September.
How to start snapdragon seeds?
Snapdragon seeds are as small as a grain of salt so try to handle them with care.
- Fill a shallow container with pre-moistened seed starting soil mix.
- Scatter the seeds sparingly and try not to crowd them.
- Cover them lightly with soil or vermiculite, or gently press them to stick to the dirt.
- Use a spray bottle to water them until they emerge.
- Keep them under grow light or on a well-lit window sill.
What soil is best to start snapdragon seeds?
The soil used to start seeds, in general, should be lightweight and able to hold even moisture. Therefore, the seed-starting mix is the best choice, but if you are on a budget or have a lot of seeds to start, you may consider making your own.
The main ingredient of most seed starting mixes is Peat Moss. Then each brand adds a different element for extra nutritional or absorption properties. However, this mix is not supposed to have many nutrients.
The sprout feeds off the seed coat’s remains in the early stages. Once it grows the second set of leaves, the true leaves, it needs more additional feeding.
How long does it take for snapdragons to germinate?
Fresh snapdragon seeds have a high germination rate and start emerging within a week or less. Keep the soil moist at all times until the seedlings emerge.
Do I need a grow light for snapdragon seedlings?
Snapdragon seeds do require light to germinate. Therefore, avoid covering them with too much soil and use a grow light to provide an intense light. If that is not available, you may use the brightest window in the house.
There is another way of starting seeds under enough light: Winter Sowing.
What is winter sowing?
- Get a milk jug and cut off the top half, leaving it attached to the bottom on the handle side.
- Pierce holes on the bottom for drainage.
- Fill the bottom with moist seed starting soil.
- Sow the seeds as mentioned above, then water.
- Put back the top and tape it to its bottom using strong tape.
- Uncap the top to allow air circulation to prevent moisture buildup and mold.
- Leave the jug outside where it would get plenty of sunlight.
- Keep an eye on it.
- Once the seedlings emerge and reach a good size, open the container and pot them up.
This method is praised by many gardeners, mainly in the North, where winter is long and comes early. However, I don’t see it as beneficial for Southern gardeners since the sun is too intense, and having the seedlings in a plastic container may bake them.
Do I need to feed the snapdragon seedlings?
Seedlings, in general, do not need any extra feeding until the second set of leaves emerges. Then, these leaves will start working and producing chlorophyll and need more nutrients from the soil for better growth.
Start feeding your seedlings at a low concentration. Commercial fertilizers usually have thorough directions on the feeding dosage. Otherwise, apply a quarter of the regular recommended strength.
Important To Know
Do not over-fertilize your seedings as they are still young. Instead, feed them at a low concentration at an unfrequent pace. Experiment until you reach the sweet point.
What is thinning?
Thinning refers to the removal of the plants that are crowding each other. And that is when seedlings are growing too close to one another, it is vital to eliminate the weakest ones to reduce competition.
One school of thought does not believe that thinning is an important step. Instead, the idea is that the weak plants will eventually die as the strong ones overwhelm them and take over space.
How to thin snapdragon seedlings properly?
Some gardeners are very particular about thinning, while others are not. The first group goes with snipping off the unwanted seedling using scissors or sharp cutting tools. They believe that cutting them prevents disturbing the root system of the remaining ones.
Other gardeners go with pulling out the weak seedlings delicately instead. The idea is that the size difference between the seedlings is significant that the “martyr” plant has not enough root system to disturb its neighbor when pulled out.
If you are a newbie gardener, I recommend using the sniping method. It is safer and more assuring that the chosen plants are not damaged.
What is topping a plant?
Topping is the term used for pinching off the top growth of a plant at an early age to trigger side shoots, resulting in a thicker and bushier plant.
As far as snapdragons are concerned, pinching the tips is particularly rewarding. Not only at the early stages of growth but all along the season, especially for tall snapdragons. With every pinch, new growth appears with more flowering stalks.
Do I need to up-pot the snapdragon seedlings?
When the true leaves of the snapdragon appear, the plant starts to grow fast. Eventually, the root ball will need more room to support the active growth; therefore, the seedlings need to move up to a slightly bigger pot.
Since the plant is not ready for its final growing space, it is necessary to transplant it and care more for it until the weather settles.
- Fill up the new containers with regular potting soil 3/4 of the way.
- Hold the seedling container upside down over the palm of your hand. Careful not to break the stem.
- Squeeze the base of the container to release the root ball into your hand.
- Place the plant in the new container, and push the root ball slightly in the soil, keeping it level.
- Backfill with soil covering the root ball but not burying the stem.
- Water immediately.
- You may keep it under the grow light or on a bright window sill.
- Fertilize every two weeks or so as directed on the label.
When to plant snapdragon seedling out?
Snapdragons do not withstand hot weather. In Central Texas, summer heat most of the time lingers through October. So wait for the weather to cool down to a constant 75F (25C) during the day and 65F (18C) at night. But before putting them out, you should harden the seedlings off.
How to harden off snapdragon transplants?
Hardening off is the process of acclimating young plants to the natural elements. It takes approximately a week from start to finish.
- Bring the plants out for two hours the first day.
- Put them in a shady spot if the sun is intense.
- Increase the outside time hours slowly until they spend a whole day.
- Then keep them overnight, protected from nocturnal predators.
- Now they are ready to be planted out.
How to plant the snapdragon transplants?
- Choose a sunny spot for your snapdragons for the best performance.
- Amend the soil with good compost to ensure balanced moisture retention and drainage.
- Dig a hole as big as the root ball.
- You may add slow-release dry fertilizer to provide a kick-start.
- Place the root ball at the soil level.
- Backfill the hole with soil, gently pressing to get out any air pockets.
- Water thoroughly.
- Keep your snapdragons well watered, especially during dry weather.
Snapdragons are annual flowers. Yet, if planted in a spot that gets partial shade in the summer, they may survive for the next season.
Cut the ugly parts back and water regularly during the hot summer for them to come back and start blooming again in early fall.
How to space the snapdragon transplants?
Tall snapdragons may reach three feet tall and two feet wide, so plant them one foot apart to ensure good air circulation. However, bush snapdragons are mounding plants, so you can plant them closer but no less than six inches apart.
Do tall snapdragons need support?
Be warned that tall snapdragons may topple over in severe weather, strong wind, and even when heavy with blooms. Therefore, it is good to provide some support early in the season.
When do snapdragons bloom?
Dwarf snapdragons bloom all season long, from fall to spring. So keep sheering back the spent flowers to encourage new shoots and more blooms.
Tall snapdragons grow foliage and establish themselves during the wintertime. The spectacular bloom show starts early spring through early summer. Then, their uniquely colored flowers open up gradually, in a cascading way, announcing the arrival of spring.
Is snapdragon a cut flower?
Yes, you may use tall snapdragons as cut flowers. The more you cut, the more you get. They also last about ten days in a vase, and maybe longer if you add flower preservative to the water.
How to harvest snapdragon seed?
It is easy to harvest snapdragon seeds. By the end of the blooming season, leave a few stalks on the plant. The petals will fall off, uncovering an egg-like pod. Please wait until it turns brown and dries completely, and notice two holes appear at the top of the pod.
You might hear the rattling of the seeds inside the pod. Press gently on the holes to open them up, then turn them into a plate to spill the seeds out.
Store the seeds in a seed packet or a small jar. Then keep them in a dry place away from moisture and sunlight. You may also use a sill pack inside the container if excess moisture presents an issue.
Snapdragons come in different colors and flower shapes. The following are the most recommended by flower growers.