I’ve had a long and troubled relationship with snapdragons. Snapdragons have always been one of those flowers that just wouldn’t grow the way I wanted. I’ve seen those “real” flower farms, with rows and rows of tall snapdragons – I wanted that! Over the last four or five seasons, I had tried virtually everything I could think of to grow the best snapdragons possible.
I tried sowing snapdragon seeds indoors. While this method does work for many people – especially those with green thumbs – it doesn’t work for me. I don’t own grow lights, and without them, the seedlings will look sad…and terrible. Eventually, I lost off of my seedlings to dampening off.
Next, I tried winter sowing the snapdragon seeds. Winter sowing was my first step in the right direction. If you’re unfamiliar with winter sowing, I’ve got many videos and blog posts about it. I definitely suggest checking it out, as it totally changed the way in which I garden. The winter sown snapdragons grew to fairly nice sizes. In fact, it was the first time that I had plants that were big enough to use in flower arrangements. The main issue with winter sowing seemed to be directly related to the fact that my summer time temperatures heat up so quickly. The snapdragons did not seem to like that.
In the past, I’ve also tried planting in the fall. A sowing in September seemed to do ridiculously well, that is, until the cold weather arrived. When the cold winter temperatures finally set it, I simply couldn’t get the snapdragons to overwinter without protection. Which brings us to success –
Here in my zone 6b/7 garden, in order to grow beautiful snapdragons that have tall and strong stems, I have to overwinter them with the assistance of a low tunnel or unheated hoophouse. On a small scale (in the home garden), this task can also be accomplished by using old milk jugs or soda bottles to make mini greenhouses for flower beds.
To plant snapdragons, I start the seeds outdoors using seed starting trays at the end of September or into the beginner of October. This, of course, will vary depending upon where you live. In general, I like to start them around 4-6 weeks before my first frost date. While you’ll hear some people say that snapdragon seeds do not need cold stratification. I always put the seed packet into the fridge for about one week before planting. For me, this seems to greatly improve the germination rate. Just make sure to keep them out of reach of kids or anyone else that might get into them.
After the seeds have germinated, I let them grow on in their seed trays until they have several true leaves. Once this happens, I transplant the seedlings into the hoophouse or low tunnel. On exceptionally cold nights, below about 28F, I always add an additional row cover to the plants – just to make sure that everything stays frost free.
The snapdragons will require little care until the weather begins to warm in the spring. Once that happens, it’ll be important that I make weeding a priority, as snapdragons seem like they really can’t compete with the weeds in my yard. Other than that, here’s hoping to have some really wonderful snapdragons!
Have you ever grown snapdragons? Do you have any tips or tricks? I would love to hear all about them in the comments below! I hope you’re having a wonderful day!