COTTAGE garden favourites Antirrhinums, or snapdragons, are a half-hardy perennial but are best grown as an annual - which means an early start.
Sow seeds January-March, thinly, in trays of seed compost. Don’t cover the seeds, or exclude light, as this helps germination.
Keep moist and maintain a temperature of 18-22°C (64-72°F). Germination should take 10-29 days, but may be erratic.
The seedlings are tiny - don’t be put off if they seem to be making little progress - I always think they’re going to die young.
Seeds can be sown July-September in a cold frame for planting out the following spring.
When they are large enough to prick out, transplant them 5cm apart in seed trays (or I use small modules) and grow on.
Gradually acclimatise the plants to outside conditions before planting out 12-25cm apart (depending on the size of the variety) in a sunny position.
This year’s choice is Tootsie F1, a ‘designer’ mix of creamy-white and deep pink plants.
I’m not really a fan of mixed colours where snapdragons are concerned, as you can see by my choices - I like a dramatic palette.
Last year I grew Purple Twist, which reached a metre high with splotched purple/white striped flowers.
It flowered until the first frosts - highly recommended.
If you’re after a smaller plant, Thompson & Morgan’s Bronze Dragon is a stunner, with almost black foliage and purple and white bi-coloured blooms.
It also has very good rust resistance.
Another large snapdragon is Royal Bride, with rich green foliage and spikes of large, pure white flowers which have a gorgeous fragrance. Makes an excellent cut flower.
GROW AT A GLANCE GUIDE
Sow: January-March or July-September.
Flowering period: June-October.
Position: Full sun.
Hardiness: Although half-hardy perennial, treat as a half-hardy annual.
Recommended varieties: Available in dwarf, intermediate, tall and trailing.
Tall: Royal Bride; Purple Twist (up to 90cm/36in).
Intermediate: Tootsie F1, Black Prince; Day and Night, 45cm/18in.
Dwarf: Bronze Dragon 30cm/12in.