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Originated from the Greek words “anti” and “rhis”, the antirrhinum genus simply means “like a nose”, which is where its popular name Snapdragon comes from. Because of their shape “like a nose” the snapdragon petals are often used as a hand puppet, being snapped open and closed by children and adults alike.
Coming from the Mediterranean (like the Bells of Ireland and Campanula), the snapdragon has been a beloved flower for years. It is ironic, however, that although this flower comes from an area known for its heat and humidity, the snapdragon is a sturdy flower that can cope well with heavy frosts. It is not uncommon to see them still blooming in the fall and sometimes the winter. Snapdragons grow erect, on slender stalks with multiple blooms that open from the bottom to the top. They have been found in almost every color except blue.
The snapdragon is typically found in 3 sizes: dwarf, medium and tall. Dwarfs grow 6-15 inches and produce several flower spikes. Medium grow 15-30 inches and are the more popular flowers, along with tall snapdragons, which grow 30-48 inches tall. These are generally used as back boarder flowers when they are in gardens. Florists love to use medium and tall snapdragons in cut arrangements for their unique, yet romantic look and bright colors.
Growing snapdragons is fairly easy. They appreciate full to partial sun, and a soil that is neutral but still nutrient rich and well-draining. Something to keep in mind is to add a fertilizer if the soil is stale of nutrition. Plant snapdragons after the last frost or around August or September so they will be strong enough to stand up to new frosts and continue to bloom. *Tip: When the flowers die off, cut the plant down about 6 inches and this will encourage a second bloom.
Over time, there have been many meanings and symbolisms associate with this flower, but nothing is as popular as the link it has to magic. Some say when you open the mouth of the snapdragon it will tell you the future. Others have thought that this flower keeps witches away, gives people energy and strength and restores women to look youthful and beautiful. In Germany, snapdragons were hung over the beds of children to protect them from evil spirits.
Also visit our Snapdragon Life Cycle page.