Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Snapdragons – More Than a Pretty Face!

By Kathy Esfahani

It’s hard to resist squeezing the sides of a snapdragon flower to watch its “jaws” open and close! These flowers add beautiful color to your garden and are ideal for planting now that the temperatures are cooling. Look for snapdragons of almost any color and height depending on your desired location.

Snapdragons have been a popular flower since the rise of the Roman Empire. Their botanical name, “Antirrhinum majus”, means “like” (anti) and “snout” (rrhinum) in Greek and reflects the dragon aspect of the flower. Originating in the Mediterranean, snapdragons were believed to protect against witchcraft or any negative influence.

The early Greeks and Romans planted them around castle gates or even wore them as necklaces for protection. In Victorian times, they had a more romantic side – the gift of a snapdragon bouquet indicated an upcoming marriage proposal, and it was believed that wearing them under clothing made a person more attractive. Snapdragons were brought to America when settlers moved into the States. Other types of snapdragons have been created over the last century, one with a butterfly-like flower and the other more azalea-like. However, the traditional plant with the dragon’s snout flower is still the most popular.

With their long stems, snapdragons work well in bouquets, but they also have a variety of other uses. Early in the story, women boiled snapdragons and applied the infused water to their skin in hopes of rejuvenating a youthful appearance. The seeds were also used to make an oil used in the same way as butter. The flowers and leaves of snapdragons have anti-inflammatory characteristics that can be helpful in healing wounds and/or ulcers on the skin. Although they have a bitter taste, snapdragons are edible and often used for garnishes.

Snapdragons are a popular annual that look great in garden beds, as borders or in containers. Because they are deer resistant, snapdragons can bring color to areas where these visitors may roam or be scattered in vegetable gardens as a deterrent.

Look for a sunny location with well-drained soil. For the first few weeks after planting, keep the soil around your snapdragons moist. Once the plants are more established, water regularly when the top layer of soil (about an inch deep) is dry. Regularly removing old flowers will encourage the plants to continue producing new flowers.

Enjoy your colorful snapdragons outdoors, but don’t forget to bring them indoors for beautiful cut arrangements!

Good shooting!

Flower of the week: snapdragons

Please email Kathy at kcg.pvr@gmail.com with any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information and ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.

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