How to Care for Dwarf Snapdragons
Dwarf snapdragon cultivars (Antirrhinum majus) grow 8 to 12 inches tall, significantly shorter than standard snapdragons, which grow 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet tall. With full sun and well-draining soil, these little perennials brighten up the landscape with colorful white, yellow, peach, pink, purple, red and bi-colored flowers. Through dwarf snapdragons are technically perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, you can also treat them as annuals in USDA zones 7 and lower.
Dwarf snapdragons are one of the few plants that deer don't eat, plus they aren't invasive or aggressive in their growth habit.
Dwarf snapdragon cultivars include:
- ‘Bells’ Mix
- ‘Floral Showers'
- ‘Little Darling’
- ‘Magic Carpet’ Series
- ‘Montego’ Series
Fertilize dwarf snapdragons once in spring, right after planting, in USDA zones 2 through 7. In USDA zones 8 through 10, fertilize in fall after planting to provide nutrients for the winter growing season. Use a continuous-release fertilizer, such as a 12-4-8 product, to provide sustained nutrients. Use 4 tablespoons per 4 square feet or bed around the dwarf snapdragons. Scatter the dry fertilizer evenly over the soil, then water the area until the soil is damp 6 inches deep.
- Dwarf snapdragon cultivars (_Antirrhinum majus grow 8 to 12 inches tall, significantly shorter than standard snapdragons, which grow 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet tall.
Water dwarf snapdragons when the top 1/2 to 1 inch of the soil starts to feel dry, giving the bed enough water to dampen the soil 6 inches deep. Caring for dwarf snapdragons successfully requires a delicate balance of regular water, without watering too much. Constantly wet, muddy soil can cause them to grow poorly.
Removing the Flowers
As dwarf snapdragons bloom and go to seed, remove the dead and fading flowers. This encourages the plants to bloom more abundantly through the season. To remove the dead flowers, a process called deadheading, pinch the stalk directly below the flower using your fingernails. Wash your hands with soap and water after.
- Water dwarf snapdragons when the top 1/2 to 1 inch of the soil starts to feel dry, giving the bed enough water to dampen the soil 6 inches deep.
- Caring for dwarf snapdragons successfully requires a delicate balance of regular water, without watering too much.
- As dwarf snapdragons bloom and go to seed, remove the dead and fading flowers.
While dwarf snapdragons don't require the regular pinching back that standard varieties do, some pinching during the first part of the growing season helps create a bushy plant that looks full and lush. Pinch off the top 1/2 inch or so of each stalk. Pinch back the tips once after planting, then allow them to grow and flower.
Pests and Problems
Check dwarf snapdragons for aphids through the growing season. Aphids, small, soft-bodied insects that can be green, black or pink, feed on the leaves and flowers. Also keep an eye out for spider mites, which are minuscule white pests that form a fine webbing over the leaves where they are feeding. Start by washing aphids and spider mites off with a strong stream of water, then check daily and follow up with additional water. If the pests keep coming back, mix 4 teaspoons of insecticidal soap with 1 quart of water in a clean garden sprayer or spray bottle. Use the mixture to spray the insects and affected leaves, until the area is wet. Repeat every four to seven days until the pests are eradicated.
Although insecticidal soap is considered less toxic than other insecticides, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, eye protection and gloves when working with it. Spray only when it's not windy and keep children and pets out of the area until the spray has dried.
Dwarf and standard snapdragons are highly susceptible to rust, a damaging fungal disease that disfigures and kills the plants. The best way to prevent this problem is by buying and planting the widely available rust-resistant dwarf snapdragon varieties.
Eulalia Palomo has been a professional writer since 2009. Prior to taking up writing full time she has worked as a landscape artist and organic gardener. Palomo holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies from Boston University. She travels widely and has spent over six years living abroad.