Dragon flowers (Antirrhinum majus) are beautiful perennial flowers but are usually grown as annuals. Other common names are snapdragon or dog flower. The dragon flowers name comes from its unique blooms, which resemble the face of a dragon.
Snapdragons are commonly used as a cut flower or an ornamental plant. This stunning flower is native to rocky areas of the United States, Canada, North Africa and Europe. Very interesting thing about dead snapdragon flowers is that they look very gothic, like miniature human skulls.
Varieties of Dragon Flower
Dragon Flowers are very popular flowers, so there are many different cultivars. To help you make your choice, below we have brought out a list of our favorites:
- Madame Butterfly – Has a variety of colors, red, orange, yellow, white lavender, orange and white. Blooms are shaped like azalea.
- Black Prince – Beautiful purple leaves and dark red blooms
- La Bella – Fragnant variation with open blooms.
- Aroma – Large type of Dragon Flower, which can grow up to 30 inches in height. There are different variations of Aroma, with lots of colors and various scents.
- Lucky Lips – Blooms are white, pink, and deep red, all at the same time! They are also shaped like puckered lips, which makes for very romantic gifts such as cut flowers.
- Frosted Flame – Type with narrow leaves, petals are usually in two colors, which can be red, yellow, pink or creamy.
- Candy Showers – Short and wide variation, looks bushy. Excellent choice for pots or hanging baskets. They only grow to about 8 inches in height!
- Royal Bride – White cultivar with a nice scent, can grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) in height!
Dragon Flower Care
When cared for correctly, snapdragons bloom throughout the season, especially in colder climates. Even though they are short-lived perennials, they are mostly grown as annuals. Dragon flowers tend to bloom less when the plant overwinters and is mature.
Snapdragons will need at least 1 inch of water a week, while younger snapdragons need moist soil at all times. It is best to water dragon flower at the base of the plant.
Let the top part of the soil fully dry out, about an inch. Now it is time to water the dragon flower.
Soil and Fertilizer
Dog flowers prefer well-draining, rich soil with pH ranging from 6-7. It is not necessary to overly fertilize them, adding some organic matter near the base of the plant however, helps them bloom.
It is a good idea to add fertilizer when the first flowers appear, well-balanced fertilizer in small doses to prevent root burns.
Dragon flowers grow well in USDA Hardiness zones 7-11. As previously mentioned, these stunning flowers prefer lower temperatures. They tend to bloom best when the temperature is 60-70 °F (15-21 °C) during the day and 40-50 °F (4-10 °C) during the night.
Snapdragons thrive in full sun or partial shade. In colder regions, a location with full sun is ideal. High temperatures can impair dragon flowers’ ability to bloom, therefore best planted in partial shade.
Growing from Seed
Dragon flowers grow slowly from seeds. In hotter regions, seeds can simply be spread on top of the soil in late fall or sown in the soil about a month last frost.
To have a great success rate, its better to grow seedlings indoors first.
- Take some potting soil
- Press the seeds in the soil
- Place the container under growing lights (5 inches from the container) for 16 hours per day
- When seedlings appear from the soil, move the lamps further away
- Keep the soil moist throughout
- When the seedlings are about 5 inches tall, pinch off the top stem.
- Replant in your garden after two weeks of first frost
Although snapdragons are commonly grown from seeds as annuals, it is possible to propagate them via stem cuttings:
- Cut the stem with a sharp tool under a leaf node
- Stem cutting should be about 2 inches (5 cm) in length
- Remove the foliage from the bottom inch of the cutting
- Dip the bottom inch in rooting hormone
- Plant the cutting in potting soil
- Cover the container with a plastic bag to retain humidity
- Once roots are established, you can remove the bag
- Grow on the windowsill or under growing lights until the plant establishes
- Replant in the garden after two weeks of first frost
Problems and Solutions
Dragon flower is susceptible to fungal leaf spots, downy mildew, wilt, root rot, and rust fungus. This is why it is best to water the near the base of the plant.
When infected by rust fungi, it can be difficult to grow snapdragons in that location. Let the rust fungus die out by growing dragon flowers in a different location next year.
Spider mites and aphids are pests that can feed on dragon flowers, and use neem oil or other pesticides to get rid of them.
Heat and sunlight may cause wilting leaves, replant to a shadier spot if the summer is particularly hot and sunny.
Falling Dragon Flowers
Taller cultivars of the snapdragon may need support to keep them upright.
Brown & Yellow Spots
Yellowing and brown spots on dragon flowers is caused by rust fungi, fungicides do not help. Remove the foliage with spots on them.
Dragon flowers symbolize strength, deviousness, and grace. During Victorian Times this plant was sent as a gift from secret lovers to each other.
Dragon flower is a great addition to a garden, providing colorful blooms in the spring and in the fall. It is also a great gift as a cut flower.
Growing snapdragons may not be very easy, but the resulting stunning blooms are definitely worth it.