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How to Prune Snapdragons

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How to Prune Snapdragons

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Overview

The snapdragon is a flowering plant named for its dragon-face blossom. Check out its namesake by placing your fingers gently on each side of a snapdragon blossom. Squeeze carefully so that the upper and lower blossom lips open and snap like a dragon mouth. Snapdragons are showy with flower clusters from solid brilliant colors to tricolor blooms. Heights range from 6 to 48 inches, making the snapdragon suitable for most flower gardens. With light pruning, the snapdragon provides a wealth of colorful blossoms on a sturdy plant.

Step 1

Prune young plants early in the season. The snapdragon is a leggy plant if it grows unchecked. This makes the slender-stemmed plant vulnerable to wind and rain damage. The plant is a cool season favorite, and pruning makes it more resistant to the vagaries of seasonal weather. When the young plant is about 6 inches tall, pinch or cut stem tips to spur growth of secondary and side stems. This branching out helps the plant grow as a bushy, fuller plant.

Step 2

Continue pruning during the flowering season. The snapdragon has a long blooming season. The plant continues producing new flowers if old flowers are removed. Deadhead the flowers by pinching off or cutting spent blossoms. Cut back to the greenery so the growing plant shifts its energy to producing more blooms rather than feeding old blossoms. Many snapdragons have one main central stem and smaller stems at their base. Consider pruning these varieties and others during the growing season by cutting the full-flowering stem by half to two-thirds its length or down to the next main flowering stems. This gives you prime-cut flowers for bouquets or table arrangements while boosting new plant growth. When the mature plant is well into its spring flowering and shows signs of languishing, prune by shearing it back to about 6 inches tall. Add fertilizer, and water the plants well. It will often bounce back and reward you by reblooming in late summer or autumn.

Step 3

Finish pruning at season end in autumn. Snapdragons are a perennial in very mild climates but rarely survive a hard freeze. Cut back severely, and mulch well if you expect the plant to survive and grow back after winter. In harder climates, cut to ground level except for a few seeding stalks. Mulch and let the plant self-seed for the next season.

Tips and Warnings

  • Snapdragons are prone to plant disease. Be sure they are planted to get good air circulation to minimize wet foliage. Choose disease-resistant plants to minimize fungus problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Fertilizer
  • Water
  • Mulch

References

  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Snapdragon
Keywords: snapdragon cutting, snapdragon pruning, snapdragon annual

About this Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.