Snapdragon Care 101: Everything You Need to Know for Beautiful Blooms

Growing snapdragons is very rewarding once all the gorgeous flowers begin to open. However, it takes a few special tricks to help every plant bloom to its fullest potential.

In this article, we’re going to cover the most essential snapdragon tips that will help you:

  • Select snapdragon varieties for your garden.
  • Choose the right planting area for snapdragons.
  • Water and prune snapdragons.
  • Fertilize snapdragons for better blooms.
  • Look for signs of disease and pests.

Consider this your crash course in ultimate snapdragon care! Today, we’ll be covering how to plant and care for snapdragon seedlings purchased from a nursery.

Snapdragon care 101

Lesson 1: A Guide to Snapdragon Varieties

Snapdragons come in a stunning range of sizes, colors, and flower shapes. Before you choose snapdragons for your garden, consider all your options.

Snapdragon Sizes:

  1. Tall: 2–4 feet tall.
  2. Medium: 1–3 feet tall.
  3. Dwarf: 6–15 inches tall.
  4. Trailing: These vine-like snapdragons send out branches that grow along the ground.

Snapdragon Colors:

  1. Single-Color Flowers: You can find snapdragons with blooms of almost any color. Common varieties include white, pink, purple, blue, yellow red, and even dark colors that are almost black.
  2. Multi-Color Flowers: Some snapdragon cultivars have flowers that are striped or spotted with more than one color. Purple-and-blue and yellow-and-pink are common combinations.

Snapdragon Flower Shapes:

  1. Dragon Jaw: These are classic snapdragon flowers with a distinctive “dragon” look.
  2. Butterfly: Snapdragons sold as “Butterfly” varieties have flowers with a unique butterfly shape.

The type of snapdragon you choose depends on the look you want for your garden. Tall and medium snapdragons are great for growing in containers or in the back row of your garden. Meanwhile, dwarf and trailing snapdragons are great for planting at the front of your garden.

The variety of snapdragon flower colors and shapes comes down to personal preference. Just remember, whatever color you are imagining in your garden, you can probably find snapdragons in that shade. If one nursery doesn’t have what you’re looking for, another one probably does.

Lesson 2: Plant Your Snapdragons in the Right Place

Snapdragons need plenty of sun, but providing shade for them during extreme heat will increase the number of flowers they produce. Pick a location that gets six hours of direct sun in the morning, followed by afternoon shade.

I plant my snapdragons in a flowerbed on the east side of my house. This way, they get plenty of sun in the morning. Then, during the hottest part of the afternoon, my home blocks the intense sun coming from the west.

If you’d like to know more about snapdragon sun needs, check out our detailed Snapdragon sun guide. It provides information on specific situations, such as growing snapdragons in indirect sunlight.

Lesson 3: Best Snapdragon Watering Tips

Snapdragons are not exceptionally water-hungry plants. They only need one inch of water per week as long as temperatures are below summer peaks. So, it’s rare for them to require daily watering.

Use your finger to test the soil at the base of your snapdragon plants. If the top inch of soil is dry, they need water. Water until the top one inch of soil is moist but not flooded.

It’s always best to water snapdragons at ground level—not by overhead watering. I use a soaker hose that waters the ground in a two-foot diameter circle at the base of each snapdragon. If you’re using a watering can, avoid splashing water and dirt on the leaves. Instead, water the two-foot area at the base of each plant.

Snapdragons need more water in hot, dry weather. So, it’s a good idea to check the soil daily when temperatures are above 90℉(32℃). Our snapdragon watering guide will teach you the signs of a snapdragon suffering from too little water.

Lesson 4: Fertilizing Snapdragons Properly

It takes a lot of nutrients for a snapdragon plant to grow tall cones of flowers. So, it’s essential to fertilize your snapdragons to get the most blooms.

Don’t fertilize snapdragons right after you plant them. Instead, wait for them to grow their flower stalks. Just as the first blooms begin to open, feed your snapdragons with this fertilizer mixed with water. Repeat the fertilizer application every two to four weeks (I fertilize every two weeks).

I chose a fertilizer that you mix with water. This way, you just replace one of your regular watering sessions with fertilizer watering. Don’t add water-soluble fertilizer if you’ve just watered. If you try to fertilize wet soil, the excess water and fertilizer will run off instead of soaking into the snapdragon’s root zone.

Once your snapdragons naturally stop flowering, reduce your fertilizer application to once every four to six weeks until the plants begin to go dormant. You will get hundreds more flowers by fertilizing during the blooming period. However, once dormant, snapdragons won’t bloom no matter how well they are fertilized.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Lesson 5: Pruning Snapdragons for Healthy Growth

Did you know pruning snapdragons actually encourages them to grow more flowers? During the flowering season, keep an eye on those big cones of snapdragon flowers. Once most of the flowers on a cone are wilted or dry, it’s time to prune.

To remove a spent snapdragon flower spike, use these sharp pruning shears to cut it off. You should cut the stem right above the first set of leaves below the flower cone. This will trigger the plant to grow a new flower cone and bloom again.

In addition to spent flowers, remove any sick, wilting, or broken snapdragon branches. If they’re left intact, these damaged areas can cause your plants to contract disease.

By combining a fertilizer program with regular summer pruning, you can double or triple the amount of flowers your snapdragons grow in a single season.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Lesson 6: Common Snapdragon Problems and Fixes

Snapdragons are prone to viruses, fungal infections, and harmful insects. However, there are simple steps to prevent or cure these issues.

Viruses:

  1. Plant viruses are passed from plant to plant.
  2. Clean the blades of your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol after each plant you prune. This will stop viruses from spreading between plants.
  3. If a plant in your garden is sickly or dead, remove it to prevent diseases from spreading to your snapdragons.

Fungus:

  1. Fungal infections are characterized by black or rust-colored spots or streaks on snapdragon leaves, stems, and flowers.
  2. Treat infected areas with this neem oil spray every day until the fungus disappears.
  3. In humid locales, plant snapdragons in south-facing garden beds to reduce the risk of fungal infection.
  4. Crowded gardens increase the risk of fungal disease—consider thinning out your plants if you have a fungal outbreak.
Bonide Neem Oil | Ready-to-Use | 3 Garden Products in 1
  • 3-in-1 Garden Defense: Captain Jack's neem oil acts as a fungicide, insecticide, and miticide, protecting your lawn and garden from a variety of threats, ready-to-use with an attached sprayer.
  • Comprehensive Disease and Pest Control: From common fungal diseases like rust and powdery mildew to pests at all life stages, this product offers full-range protection.
  • Organic Gardening Approved: Suitable for organic produce and can be used up until the day of harvest, it provides a safe, yet effective solution for maintaining your garden's health.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Pest Insects:

  1. Check the undersides of leaves for small insects such as thrips and aphids.
  2. If you find clusters of bugs on your snapdragons, spray them with neem oil daily until the insects are dead or gone.
  3. Consider companion planting snapdragons with butterfly milkweed. It attracts insects that eat pest bugs.

Neem oil is an essential tool for any gardener. It kills bugs and eliminates fungus, so it’s a multi-use product that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Plus, it’s a natural product so that you won’t be spraying any chemicals in your garden.

Growing Snapdragons from Seed

I highly recommend growing snapdragons from seeds! It’s a great way to experiment with unique varieties that you may not be able to find in a nursery.

However, sprouting snapdragon seeds takes a bit more planning than planting store-bought seedlings. The seeds require cold immersion and a long germination period, so I typically begin sprouting them indoors during winter.

I’ll cover sprouting snapdragon seeds in its own detailed guide. That way, I can provide all the tips and tricks I’ve learned.

Butterfly weed vs tropical milkweed

Two Identical Plants: One Saves Butterflies, The Other Kills Them

Grow snapdragons from seed

Grow Colorful Snapdragons from Seeds in 7 Easy Steps