Allen D. Owings | 12/22/2005 11:41:24 PM
Snapdragons are one of the popular cool-season bedding plants in Louisiana. They provide nice landscape color from February through April, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.
Once established and "hardened off" (acclimated) in a landscape bed, snapdragons can take sub-freezing temperatures. Be sure plants are well watered prior to cold spells, Owings advises.
The horticulturist says many new varieties of snapdragons feature improved flower uniformity, stronger stems and larger flowers. In the last couple of years, trailing snapdragons have been introduced. These varieties cascade to some degree and work well in hanging baskets.
Snapdragons also can be added to the landscape in late winter and early spring if you missed the fall planting time. Some flowering may occur in the fall and early winter if you planted early enough in the fall.
Blossom colors include red, yellow, pink, burgundy, bronze, orange, white and multiples of those colors. Regardless of when you planted, Owings recommends fertilizing at planting with a slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote 14-14-14 or StaGreen Nursery Special 12-6-6, by lightly incorporating it into the landscape bed or broadcasting over the top.
Best performance of snapdragons occurs under the conditions of cool nights (40s) and warm days (60s-70s), below-average rainfall (since wet conditions lead to rust and leaf spot diseases) and sunny days. After individual plants bloom, pinch off the old flowers or cut them fresh for indoor bouquets. Plants will generally re-bloom within a few weeks.
A number of varieties are available. Older ones, such as Rocket and Liberty, are taller growing plants. Sonnet enjoys current popularity. Shorter growing plants for the front of a landscape bed include Tahiti and Floral Showers, sometimes called dwarf or miniatures. Owings also recommends these for containers.
A new snapdragon being marketed for the Gulf Coast is Solstice. This series blooms longer than other snapdragons and reaches heights of 16-20 inches, which makes it a candidate for a cut flower. Colors include almost everything available in other varieties.
"Some folks say, ‘It’s a snap to grow snaps,’" Owings quips.
For related gardening and landscape information, click on the Lawn and Garden link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Also, contact the county agent in your local parish LSU AgCenter office.