The City Magazine Since 1975

Snap Decisions

Snap Decisions
September 2019

A cool-weather hero, the snapdragon now comes in more colors and growth habits than ever

(Clockwise from above left) ‘Speedy Sonnet’ snapdragons grow 18 to 24 inches high; The ‘Twinny’ series reaches about 10 inches tall; ‘Candy Showers’ trails gracefully.

Most anyone raised alongside a gardener has a childhood memory of squeezing the snout on a bloom with the wonderfully villainous name of “snapdragon.” But if you’ve yet to venture into chilly-season planting yourself, you may not realize how heroic these annuals actually are—especially nowadays, when a diverse array of options fill the marketplace.

“Whether you’re looking for a filler, thriller, or spiller—not just for containers but for garden beds, too—there’s a snapdragon to fit your needs,” says Charleston garden editor Joan McDonald. “And they’re available in every color of the rainbow.”

Local nurseries such as Hyams and Abide A While will begin welcoming the latest crop this month. The snaps you know from youth might be the midsize varieties that grow six to 12 inches high. These Goldilocks favorites are über-versatile—excellent for pairing with trailers like viola or more statuesque options like fragrant stock. Go for the vibrant ‘Snaptini’ and ‘Snapshot’ series, “both new to the scene in 2018,” advises Abide A While annuals manager Lori Eastwick. “We’re also expecting ‘Twinny’, a double bloom that comes in soft, vintage colors.”

Need a dramatic backstory for a garden border? The likes of ‘Rocket’, ‘Speedy Sonnet,’ and ‘Liberty’ can tower as high as three feet. Hide their “legs” with a skirt of flowering kale, then try combining alyssum and pansies in front. “You’ll need to stake tall snaps if you want a really upright stem, but personally, I don’t mind if they flop over and mingle a bit with the other blooms,” notes McDonald.

That brings us to the “spiller”: ‘Candy Showers’ recently debuted as the first-ever trailing ’dragon. Available in colors ranging from red to deep purple to orange, it can fill a hanging basket or container all on its own, though delicate dianthus and bright-yellow mimulus make pretty complements.

Full sun and well-draining soil are key for keeping all snaps happy. Aim to plant them by mid October so they have time to settle in before the first freeze. Defying Charleston’s coldest temps, “They’ll bloom straight through spring,” says McDonald. “And don’t forget, the more flowers you clip for indoor bouquets, the more the plants will produce.”

Chill Out

Complement your snapdragons with annuals in contrasting heights and leaf forms. The options below will mix and match with ease



Photographs courtesy of (‘Speedy Sonnet’ & ‘Candy Showers’) Sakata Ornamentals & (‘Twinny’) Park Seed