This Is How To Achieve Vibrant Snapdragons All Autumn Long

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This Is How To Achieve Vibrant Snapdragons All Autumn Long

Snapdragon flowers are a popular choice for gardens due to their wide range of colors, both solid and multi-colored, and their long-lasting blooms in both the garden and a vase. There are two types of snapdragons: annual and perennial. Perennial snapdragons tend to reseed the following year, and their stems can be taller and more woody than annual snapdragons. They offer a beautiful display of blooms from summer through fall and will even continue to bloom after frost, but they do require some deadheading to ensure they look their best.

Deadheading snapdragons requires a bit of extra care as compared to deadheading other flowers. Typically, deadheading involves removing spent blooms or stems that are no longer flowering. However, perennial snapdragons have a specific blooming pattern. Initially, only one stem blooms, and buds usually open along the entire length of the stem. As these blooms start to fade, the central stem begins to develop side stems which will eventually form new buds. These side stem buds become the flowers that last throughout the autumn season, and even continue to bloom after a hard frost. Therefore, it’s crucial to deadhead properly to make sure you don’t accidentally remove the stems that are forming new buds. By removing the central stem, the plant can use its energy towards the emerging buds on the side stems.

Autumn blooming and seed formation

snapdragons

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The side stems of your perennial snapdragons will start forming usually in early autumn. That’s the time to trim back that central stem to give more space and energy to the emerging buds. If the central stem’s flowers start to drop off or turn brown earlier, you can deadhead it as soon as it stops blooming. Use a pair of snips or pruning shears to make a clean cut.

As the snapdragon flowers start to dry out, they will leave behind small light brown seed pods that look a bit like tiny skulls. These seedpods contain tiny seeds that can be harvested and then replanted in spring, or scattered around nearby to reseed your snapdragons. If you want to harvest them, let some of your snapdragon stems form seedpods; they’re more likely to do this if you leave the stem intact until the small brown seed heads form (as opposed to cutting the stem as soon as the flowers drop off).

You can harvest the dried seedpods without snipping off the stem if you wish — just pinch them off with your fingers. Let the seedpods continue to dry in a bowl for a few days until you can hear the tiny seeds rattling around inside; this means they are dry and can be removed from the seedpod. Then you can save them for spring planting.

Where to plant snapdragons for maximum fall beauty

snapdragons in container

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Placement of your perennial snapdragons is something to consider if you want to make the most of their long bloom season. Tall snapdragons are visible in the middle of the garden bed, but when that central stem is cut back to make room for side stems, the flower loses considerable height. Also, your snapdragon will likely bend over and the flowering stems on the sides of the central stem tend to bloom sideways instead of shooting straight up.

To make the most of these shifts in shape of your snapdragons as the season proceeds, plant some of them in spots where the flowers will be visible from a lower angle. Putting a few perennial snapdragons at the front of the garden bed will provide some colorful blooms in late autumn when many other perennials have faded. They may also reseed and give you new snapdragons in spring. Snapdragons are particularly nice planted along a walkway where you’ll see them often and enjoy their vivid colors.

It’s also a good idea to add some perennial snapdragons to your container gardens. The tall blooming spikes add drama and plenty of color in the summer. Then, as autumn arrives, those side-blooming stems will still provide some color and interest in your container, even as you switch out your lobelia for mums, or make other seasonal changes.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.