Tuesday, December 11, 2007



With dwarf, medium, and tall types and beautiful, distinctive flowers, snapdragons are welcome annuals for nearly every garden. The pouched, tubular flowers come in every color (and many bicolors) except green and blue.
They are borne on dense, upright spikes and can be "snapped" open and closed. Some varieties have open, rather than pouched, petals that flower into a ruffled, butterfly-like display. Dwarf types are good for rock gardens, containers, and edgings. Medium types are good for mass plantings, containers, and cutting; large varieties are wonderful cut flowers and good choices for the middle or back portions of gardens.Notable Varieties'Coronette Mixed' grows 18 inches tall and produces flowers in a variety of colors.'Floral Carpet Mixed' grows 6 to 8 inches tall.'Liberty' grows 36 inches tall and is available in mixes or single colors.'Little Darling' bears trumpet, nonsnap flowers on 12-inch-tall plants.'Madame Butterfly' has double azalea-type flowers and grows 24 to 30 inches tall.'Princess with a Red Eye' is a red-and-white bicolored variety that grows 20 inches tall.'Rocket' reaches 36 inches tall and bears flowers in mixes or single colors.'Royal Carpet Mixed' reaches 8 inches tall.CareLocate in full sun or partial shade in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Stake taller types. Cut back spent stems to stimulate rebloom. Discourage disease by spacing adequately and providing good air circulation. Fertilize by working in compost two or three times during the season or by applying a slow-release fertilizer, following label directions exactly.PlantingSnapdragons thrive in cool weather and in warmer climates are often timed for fall bloom by sowing seeds in midsummer. They usually stop blooming when temperatures regularly hit 80 to 85 degrees, but resume bloom when it cools off. Buy nursery transplants and plant outdoors in spring a couple of weeks or so before your last frost. Or sow seeds indoors (not covered by soil) 6 to 8 weeks before last frost. In Zones 9 and higher, plant in fall for winter and spring bloom. Space 6 to 18 inches apart, depending on final size.Pests and DiseasesSnapdragon rust can be avoided by planting disease-resistant types, avoiding overhead watering, and rotating location from year to year. Downy mildew, aphid, and whitefly can also cause problems.

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