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Snapdragons for your garden

The hot humid days of summer have arrived, and with them, that childhood favorite, Antirrhinum majus, the ubiquitous snapdragon. These prolific annuals come in every color but blue and start easily from seed.

Snapdragons are most productive in full sun, 6-8 hours a day, but can tolerate some light shade. Plant in well-drained soil, and amend sandy or heavy soils with an organic material of compost or peat moss.

The root system is shallow and fine and can be easily damaged by cultivation. Surround plants with a deep layer of organic mulch to conserve soil moisture, prevent weeds and keep the root system cool.

Snapdragons need frequent watering for the first couple of weeks after transplanting, and daily watering in sandy soils.

Once established, water when the top 1 inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Snapdragons perform best in cool weather, and most cultivars can tolerate frost and an occasional light freeze.

There are many distinctive types of snaps for different uses in your garden design. Dwarf plants grow just 6 to 15 inches tall and are perfect plants for use in a low border or containers.

Mid-sized varieties grow 15 to 30 inches tall and are used in borders, either alone or with other annuals, and as cut flowers. Tall varieties will grow 30 to 48 inches in height. They make a wonderful plant for the back of the border as well as for cut flowers.

For cut flowers, choose tall varieties and plant 4 inches apart. These tall snapdragons need support to grow straight. Use stakes, peony rings or horizontally staked mesh netting to support plants as they grow.

Hope your garden is fruitful, your flowers are abundant and your back is pain free.

Until next time, happy gardening!