Snapdragons have been an integral part of the garden at home for several centuries. Hardly surprising, because the robust plants often bloom well into the winter months, have no special requirements and sow themselves in the right location by themselves. But even those who do not have their own garden do not have to do without the distinctive flowers of Antirrhinum.
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Flowering time and height
The flowering period begins in May and can – depending on the weather – last until December. Depending on the variety, snapdragons can reach a height of between 20 and 120 centimeters. Smaller plants are popular for growing in window boxes and on sunny window sills.
The original home of snapdragons is in North Africa and Southern Europe. It is therefore not surprising that the multicolored blooming plants in our regions do not want to do without sun and warmth. But the Antirrhinum is more robust and frugal than its delicate appearance often suggests.
- Places with direct and long-lasting sunlight are preferred.
- Snapdragon also thrives in light spots in partial shade.
- Places that are too dark inhibit the growth of the plant and flowering may fail.
- Larger varieties of snapdragons need a sheltered location. Otherwise, the delicate stems of the plant run the risk of kinking or even breaking in strong gusts of wind.
The colorful Antirrhinum does not care whether it is cultivated in a clay pot for the terrace or balcony or whether it can unfold its full bloom directly in the open air.
The herbaceous ornamental plant is relatively tolerant of its location. However, it makes certain demands on the plant substrate:
- Requires a lime-free soil – rhododendron soil, for example, has proven itself well.
- Tolerates nutrient-poor and also slightly acidic substrates.
- The soil must be permeable so that rain and irrigation water can drain off quickly. The plant cannot tolerate waterlogging.
- Mixed gravel or coarse sand ensures a better consistency of the substrate.
- Normal plant or succulent soil is also suitable for cultivation in a tub.
- Fertilize regularly with organic fertilizer on nutrient-poor soils.
- Mix compost, horn shavings or lawn cuttings into the substrate in spring and autumn.
- In the case of potted plants, apply a small amount of conventional liquid fertilizer over the irrigation water every 14 days.
If the supply of nutrients takes place exclusively through purchased fertilizers, these must be free of lime and chloride. If you like to leave the plant to its own devices, you can do without fertilizer entirely. The snapdragon is frugal and will nonetheless – if not so lusciously – develop its distinctive flowers.
Requires a moderately moist soil. How often and in what quantities has to be poured depends on the location and the nature of the soil.
- When it comes to snapdragons, less is often more. Adjust the amount of water accordingly.
- Avoid waterlogging, because the colorful plants are very susceptible to root rot
- Use water with little lime – stale rainwater is ideal.
Snapdragons reproduce exclusively through seeds:
- After flowering, harvest the seeds and let them dry for a long time.
- Sowing could be done directly outdoors from April – if you want a higher chance of germination, you should prefer the plants indoors from January.
- Choose humus-rich potting soil and moisten it well.
- Cover the seeds only lightly with soil and keep them moderately moist until germination.
- Antirrhinum are so-called cold germs – so put them in the refrigerator for a few weeks before sowing, together with the seed pot.
- A sunny location and room temperatures between 15 – 22 ° C are ideal.
- To keep the moisture in the seed pot, cover it with a transparent film. Make a few holes in the foil for the drainage of condensation water.
- The germination time is between 6 and 21 days.
- Prick out the young seedlings from a size of about 5 centimeters. Maintain a minimum distance of about 6 centimeters in the germination vessel.
- From April the snapdragons can be planted in their final location outdoors. The plant is also suitable for cultivation in clay pots.
- Shorten the shoot tips, this promotes bushy growth.
- If several plants are placed next to each other in the open, the following minimum distance must be observed: 15 centimeters for small varieties of Antirrhinum, 50 centimeters for larger varieties.
Possible mistakes when sowing
snapdragons do not germinate:
- Have the seeds been stratified after sowing? As a cold germ, a cold period must be simulated with the seed.
- Is the ambient temperature high enough? The higher the temperatures, the earlier the snapdragons germinate.
- The potting soil must not dry out, but avoid waterlogging.
- A bright place is required for germination. A window seat on the south side would be ideal for this.
The substrate is moldy:
- One reason for this could be too much moisture. If present, remove the foil and let the soil dry slightly. Then carefully remove the affected substrate regions.
- Pour moderately. The earth must not dry out, but waterlogging must also not arise.
- For potted plants, make a drainage from gravel or potsherds on the bottom of the pot. This means that excess water can drain away more quickly.
If the location and the soil meet all the needs of the plant, it will sow itself on the spot. That is why the snapdragon can often be found “wild” between stones and on dry house walls.
No special knowledge is required to cut the popular garden flower. The tips of the shoots of the young plants are already shortened by a few centimeters. This stimulates the bushy growth of the snapdragons. If no seeds are desired for propagation, remove the dead flowers immediately. This stimulates the plant to form new buds. Cut back the antirrhinum in pots regularly immediately after flowering to keep the stature height as low as possible.
Snapdragons are only partially hardy, but the flowers can withstand temperatures down to – 10 ° C for a short time. For this reason, it is not unusual to be able to admire the blooming plant in a protected location until December in its full bloom. Seeds that have sown themselves are hardy and start sprouting early in warm spring.
- The thin stems of larger snapdragon varieties can kink or tip over due to their height. Therefore support the plants with climbing aids or bamboo sticks.
- Hanging Antirrhinum varieties are particularly suitable for planting in hanging baskets and window boxes.
- For the vase cut, select shoots where the bottom two flowers have already opened. Cut diagonally and remove the leaves that are in direct contact with the water. In this way the shelf life of the cut flowers is extended.
Pests and diseases
Many supposed diseases in ornamental plants can be traced back to improper care. On the other hand, infestation by harmful insects is more widespread. With the right countermeasures, however, the snapdragon can also be freed from aphids, fungus gnats and the like.
The pests, which are only a few millimeters in size, are not picky about their host plant. Accordingly, they are often found on the different varieties of snapdragons. Aphids feed on the sugary juices of the leaf cells, which often leads to discoloration and drying of the shoot tips and leaves. The pests rarely come alone, because their sticky excretions – the honeydew – attracts ants and also promotes the colonization of sooty fungi. Various control strategies have proven effective against aphids and preventive measures can also be taken to protect the plants. Mixed cultures make it difficult for aphids, for example, to spread within one and the same group of plants.
Helpful tips in the event of a pest infestation
Natural predators such as ladybirds and the larvae of lacewings, gall gnats and hoverflies are able to eat large quantities of aphids every day.
Spray regularly with a stock of nettles.
Avoid a sharp jet of water – the tender shoots and flowers of the plant would be damaged.
Use insecticides only in extreme emergencies and ensure that they are compatible with bees and other beneficial insects.
Powdery mildew and downy mildew
Powdery mildew is a “fair weather fungus” and causes a white to brownish coating on the tops of the leaves, which can be easily wiped off. The fungal network spreads over the entire plant, causing the leaves and shoot tips to turn brown and dry out. Downy mildew, on the other hand, is promoted by long-lasting moisture. A gray to gray-purple coating forms on the underside of the leaf. Infected plant regions slowly die off. Both types of fungus must be treated as soon as they are recognized, as they can irrevocably lead to the death of the host plant if the infestation is too severe.
- Immediately cut off the affected parts of the plant and compost.
- Both types of mildew can be effectively eliminated with fungicides.
- Pay attention to the right needs of snapdragons – healthy plants are more resilient and can even ward off attack by many types of fungus.
- Gray mold: Low temperatures and high humidity encourage infestation with this harmful fungus. The Botrytis cinera causes a dense, gray coating of mold on the leaves and flowers.
- Remove infected parts of the plant.
- Water the Antirrhinum only moderately and do not unnecessarily wet the leaves of the plant with water.
- Special fungicides help to get rid of the gray mold.
Often a sign that the plant has been exposed to waterlogging too often. The leaves fade and as the rot progresses, the entire plant ultimately dies.
- A well drained soil and moderate watering are considered preventive measures.
- If a putrid smell already penetrates the substrate, keep the plant as dry as possible. If possible, replace the moist soil completely with dry one immediately.
- Special pesticides do not help against root rot.
These small insects look similar to traditional fruit flies. Sciarid gnats, however, prefer a moist plant substrate for laying eggs and the fine roots of the host plant often serve as a food source for the larvae. Young plants usually have nothing to counteract a massive infestation by fungus gnats and die due to the severe damage to the root system.
- Yellow stickers placed in the immediate vicinity of the infected plants. The yellow color attracts the fungus gnats, and the sticky surface prevents the insects from escaping.
- Water the plants moderately.
- A thick layer of quartz sand prevents the fungus gnats from laying eggs.
- In the case of snapdragons in flowerpots, also seal the lower drainage holes, for example with a nylon stocking.
The sturdy ornamental plant is easy to cultivate and in the right location it takes care of its own reproduction. Its long flowering time also makes it interesting as a balcony plant and even on sunny window sills, the plant, which comes from southern Europe, delights the viewer with its colorful flowers.