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Snapdragons (antirrhinum) come in many different sizes and colours and can provide long lasting summer blooms that do a really great job of brightening up a garden!
In June last year I bought a mature Snapdragon from my local garden centre (see above picture). I grew it in a container and encouraged it to bloom by frequently deadheading the spent flowers and keeping it well watered. It kept flowering all the way through to late October.
After the end of October my snapdragon began to fade. From here I left it outside, alone and to its own devices, all winter.
Now that spring has arrived, I am curious to find out whether it will come back for a second year.
Are snapdragons annuals or perennials?
In the UK, Snapdragons are usually grown as annuals. Due to the colder UK climate, they do not overwinter well and typically only last for a single season.
Technically snapdragons are short-lived perennials, as in warmer climates they can often come back for a second or third year but the UK climate is not really conducive to this.
That said, my snapdragon is still alive after a cold UK winter – read on to find out how it fares…
How do you get the most out of a snapdragon?
To get the most out of your snapdragon, it should be positioned in full sun. Taller varieties should ideally be in a sheltered position to prevent wind damage. Snapdragon does well in most soil types, as long as it is well draining and well fertilized soil.
Snapdragons are happy growing either directly in borders or in pots and containers. When growing in pots and containers especially, they will need regular watering but do not like being in waterlogged conditions.
If you are growing in a pots or containers, you will need to make sure they are large enough to accommodate the root system and able to hold enough moisture so as not to dry out too quickly.
I left my snapdragon outside all winter
I left my Snapdragon alone all winter, in a pot on my patio, through sub zero temperatures as low as -10 and it seems to have survived. I didn’t protect it from frost at all, although being sited next to the wall of the house may have afforded it a degree of shelter and protection from the worst of the winter weather.
This is what it looked like in March 2023:
There was still some green evident and last year’s remaining spent flowers had all gone to seed. There were plenty of seed pods!
I waited for some dry weather and removed the dead, woody sections of plant with the seed pods attached. I shook the seed pods to harvest the seeds:
Will snapdragons self seed?
As long as the spent flower heads of the snapdragon are not deadheaded, seed pods will form and scatter seed naturally in the vicinity of the plant. Although it is possible for snapdragons to self seed in this way, failure is fairly common in the UK as the seeds need a specific set of conditions, including warmth in the soil, to germinate.
Is it easy to grow snapdragons from seed?
If you want to grow snapdragons from seed, the ideal time to sow in the UK is in late winter to early spring (around February / March time). Snapdragon seeds will typically take 7 – 14 days to germinate.
To give the seeds the best chance of germination they should be sown indoors using a seed tray with a thin layer of seed compost. The seeds should be placed on the surface of the compost (not buried as they will not germinate if not exposed to light). The tray then just needs to be placed under a lid or under / inside a plastic bag (to keep the compost moist) on a sunny windowsill.
All being well the seeds should then germinate. When the seedlings reach around 7 – 10 cm tall with some well developed leaves, and there is no frost risk (normally after May in the UK), they can then be planted outside.
My snapdragon after pruning: early May
After pruning back all of the dead sections and removing the seed pods, I was left with this:
After diligent watering, by the end of May there were some small flowers forming, but unfortunately nothing like last year.
In conclusion, whilst it is possible for Snapdragon to survive winter in the UK unprotected, in my experience the plant will likely be severely degraded, and will not bloom anywhere near as strongly in the second year as it did in the first.
As it is now too late to grow from seed, I will be looking at buying some more mature snapdragons to brighten up my garden this year.
If you are doing the same, why not check out the below snapdragons available on Amazon, or follow this link for snapdragon bedding plants on Amazon.