The two species listed here are prized for their spikes of colorful blooms.
A. hispanicum. SPANISH SNAPDRAGON. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. This perennial snapdragon from Spain tops out at about 1 ft. tall and 2 ft wide, blooming pink with a yellow lower lip. The gray, somewhat fuzzy leaves are a clue to its preference for full sun, dry location.
A. majus. SNAPDRAGON. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. From southwest Europe and the Mediterranean. Among the best flowers for sunny borders and cutting, reaching greatest perfection in spring and early summer in the Middle and Upper South. In the Lower, Coastal, and Tropical South, will bloom in winter and spring. Individual flower of basic snapdragon has five lobes, which are divided into unequal upper and lower jaws; slight pinch at sides of flower will make the dragon open its jaws. Later developments include double flowers; the bell-shaped kind, with round, open flowers; and the azalea-shaped bloom, which is a double bell flower. All are available in many colors. Regular water.
Plants range from 6 in. across for smallest types to 2 ft. wide for the tallest. Tall and intermediate forms are splendid vertical accents in beds. Dwarf kinds are quite effective as edgings and in rock gardens, in raised beds, and in containers.
Snapping snapdragons in tall (2- to 3-ft.) range include Rocket and Topper strains (single flowers) and Double Supreme strain. Intermediates (1220 in.) are Cinderella, Coronette, Liberty, Minaret, Sonnet, Sprite, and Tahiti. Dwarfs (68 in.) include Dwarf Bedding Floral Carpet series, Kim, Kolibri, Luminaire, Playful, Royal Carpet, Tahiti, and 'Twinny Peach'. Rose-colored 'Candy Showers' has been developed specifically for baskets and containers.
Bell-flowered strains include Bright Butterflies and Wedding Bells (both 212 ft.); Little Darling and Liberty Bell (both 15 in.); and Pixie (68 in.). Among azalea- flowered strains are Madame Butterfly (212 ft.) and Sweetheart (1 ft.).
Sow seed in flats from late summer to early spring for later transplanting; or buy started plants at a garden center. Set out plants in early fall in the Lower, Coastal, and Tropical South, spring in the Upper and Middle South. If snapdragons set out in early fall reach bud stage before night temperatures drop below 50F, they will start blooming in winter in mild areas and continue until weather gets hot.
To help prevent rust, avoid overhead watering (or do it only in the morning or on sunny days). Feed regularly. If rust persists, change planting locations from one year to the nextor select a different annual.
Snaps can be a challenge for gardeners in the South as a companion for pansies in spring. They do not reach full bloom until the weather is starting to warm up. Meanwhile, the pansies are starting to decline. Planning ahead enables a gardener to replace the pansies with summer annuals while the snaps are flowering. This transition means the bed is never without flowers.