The Antirrhinum Genus: The Snapdragon Flower

The snapdragon, dragon flower, or antirrhinum is a unique plant that fascinates children and adults alike with its vivid flowers, each flower head resembling a dragon.

Interested in knowing more about these enigmatic flowers? Here’s what you need to know.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About Snapdragons

Snapdragons form part of the plantain plant family, and these beauties come from western parts of Asia, Northern Africa, and Europe.

You can recognize them by their tall flower spikes and unique blooms, inviting plenty of pollinators into your garden, and providing your garden with a treasure trove of color. 

They can be annuals or perennials, depending on the species chosen, and the climate in which you grow them.

The one species you’re most likely to come across is Antirrhinum majus, which is the most prevalent species in gardens, used as an ornamental plant.

These beautiful flowers are available in a myriad of shades, including purple, red, pink, white, and orange. If you feel you may not be able to decide between them and don’t have enough room for them all, some cultivars are bicolored.

Flower Name Meaning And Symbolism

See our article on Snapdragon Flower Meaning And Symbolism to find out what these unique flowers mean, and what they might say if you give them as a gift, or use them in a tattoo.

Snapdragon Uses

Besides their beauty, snapdragon plants have many uses, not just as an ornamental in a border or as a cut flower.

The flowers can be used to produce a natural green dye.

The plant contains antiphlogistic properties, which means that it helps reduce or even stop inflammation. As a result, the foliage and flowers are often used as part of poultices.

The seeds are used to create oils used in the kitchen, similar to that of olive oil.

Antirrhinum Pollination

As you might know, some flowers evolve to only attract a certain kind of pollinator, and to shut out the rest! This helps to ensure that the chances of the plant reproducing before it dies is as high as possible. 

In the case of snapdragons, these gorgeous plants are usually visited by bumblebees, which is the main pollinator for these flowers.

If you look at a snapdragon, you may notice that the flowers are tightly closed, and bumblebees are the ones crawling into these flowers.

The reason for this is that not every pollinating insect is strong enough to open the flower up to get at the pollen, and the bumblebee does have some brute force on its side, as cute and fuzzy as it may look.

To make the chances of reproduction even higher, snapdragons do have a trick up their sleeve.

They give off their faint perfume at the time of day when bumblebee activity is at its highest, which helps attract them to the flowers. 

The bees land into the flower, getting at the nectar while the pollen sticks to them. When they visit another snapdragon, the second flower is pollinated, and the cycle goes on. 

Growing Requirements

Snapdragons are hardy in USDA zones 5 through to 10, though you may treat perennial varieties as summer annuals in colder climates.

They love as much sunlight as possible, for as long as possible, in well-draining, rich soil. The soil should have a pH between 5.5 and 7.0 for snapdragons to thrive.

Snapdragons are very low maintenance plants which will not demand a lot of your attention, but you will get plenty in return for the occasional watering or feed.

They aren’t drought tolerant, so make sure you place them somewhere where they can get enough irrigation to produce their fantastic flowers.

These striking plants can get up to 4 feet tall, but they may be as compact as 20cm tall, depending on the species you pick, allowing for varying heights and color within any planting scheme.

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