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Vermont Garden Journal: A Dragon That's Fun And Fragrant

The snapdragon is a resilient flower that can be grown in beds or containers, withstands frost and heat, and blooms in an array of colors.
The snapdragon is a resilient flower that can be grown in beds or containers, withstands frost and heat, and blooms in an array of colors.

The snapdragon is a common, annual flower that originated in Southern Europe. Its name is appropriate since the botanical term means “snout-like” and the flowers look like jaws and a snout. In fact, you can squeeze the side of the flowers and make the petals move. Whatever variety you prefer, now's the time to plant them.

Snapdragons have been popular flowers since Roman times. In America, they reached the zenith in the 1950's when they started to be grown as cut flowers. With more recent breeding, there are three different types of snapdragon flowers available in various sizes. The traditional dragon jaws, butterflies and double azalea types grow well in containers, garden beds and as cut flowers. If you're growing snapdragons for cut flowers, look for tall varieties such as the 'Aroma' series. This series features two- to three-foot tall plants with flower colors ranging from white to magenta. 'Madam Butterfly' has double azalea-shaped colorful flowers and 'Rocket Mix' produces tall flower stalks with fragrant blooms.

For dwarf varieties grown in containers try the butterfly-flower shaped 'Twinny' series. 'Candy Showers' is a trailing type of snapdragon, perfect for a hanging basket.

These cool-weather-loving-plants can withstand frosts, are similar to violas, and deer and rabbit resistant. Plant in full sun on well-drained, compost-amended soil. Deadhead spent flowers and your snapdragons will produce all summer; however, they may stop blooming during hot periods but will recover to bloom again in fall. If you're growing them for your kids or grandkids, look for the dragon-jaws varieties. Grow fragrant varieties in containers on a deck or patio to enjoy the scent.

Now for this week's tip: Plant brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts into the garden now. If you've had deformed heads forming in the past, cover these Cole crops with a floating row cover or tulle to prevent the Swede midge fly from laying eggs on the growing tips.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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