Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Snapdragons — More than just a pretty face!


It is hard to resist squeezing the sides of a snapdragon bloom to watch its “jaws” open and snap shut! These flowers add beautiful color to your garden and are ideal to plant now as the temperatures cool down. Look for snapdragons in almost any color and height to suit 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-like appearance of the bloom. Originating in the Mediterranean, snapdragons were believed to guard against witchcraft or any negative influences.

Early Greeks and Romans would plant them around castle gates or even wear them as necklaces for protection. In the Victorian era, they had a more romantic edge — the gift of a Snapdragon bouquet indicated a coming marriage proposal, and wearing them under clothing was believed to make a person more alluring. Snapdragons were brought to America as the colonists moved into the states. Other types of snapdragons have been created over the past century, one with a bloom resembling a butterfly and the other looking more like an azalea. However, the traditional plant with the dragon snout bloom is still the most popular.

With their long stems, snapdragons are well-suited for bouquets, but they also have a variety of other uses. In early history, women boiled snapdragons and applied the infused water to their skin in hopes of rejuvenating a youthful appearance. The seeds were also made into an oil used similarly to butter. Both the flowers and the leaves of snapdragons have anti-inflammatory traits that can be helpful for healing wounds or ulcers on the skin. Although bitter tasting, snapdragons are edible and often used for garnishes.

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

Look for a sunny area 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 when the top layer of soil (approximately one inch deep) is dry. Regularly removing old blooms 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!

Happy snapping!

Flower of the Week: Snapdragons

Please email Kathy at for 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.