Antirrhinum sempervirens is a perennial, dwarf plant from rocky sites in the Spanish Pyrenees which makes a charming plant for a sunny spot in the rock garden or a frontal spot in the border. It produces its creamy white snapdragons over a long spring and summer period.
Also known as the 'Silver Snapdragon' or 'Rock Snapdragon', the plants grow to around 20cm (8in) tall with a spread 30 to 60cm (1 to 2ft) wide. Held just above the foliage in summer are two-lipped, creamy-white blossoms which are beautifully marked with purple in the throats.
A soft, evergreen palette of silky-haired, broad grey-green leaves and trailing, fuzzy silver stems set off the glistening, uplifted racemes of creamy blooms. The stems are trailing, and branching, making them useful in rock walls or containers.
Exhibiting a fortitude for dry conditions and a small mounding presence, the plants are very hardy and tolerate temperatures down to -18°C. (0°F), they prefer a sunny situation on moderately moist, sandy-loamy or gritty-loamy soil.
This pretty bushlet is ideally suited to the rockery or along a path where it soothes rough edges. Grown in full sun with drained soil and the occasional water, the plants are also excellent in seasonal containers.
Sowing: January to May or July to September.
Sow January to May under glass in gentle heat for flowers June to October. Or sow July to September in a cold frame for planting out in the garden the following spring.
Sow at temperatures between 15 to 20°C (59 to 68°F). Sow on the surface of a good free draining, damp seed compost. Place the trays or pots in a propagator or seal container inside a polythene bag until after germination which usually takes 10 to 21 days. Do not exclude light or cover the seed as this helps germination. Keep the germinating seedlings moist at all times, remembering to water the soil only and keep water off the leaves.
Antirrhinum can be sensitive to damping-off and other root diseases, so well-drained soil is imperative. Pay attention to glasshouse hygiene and use a suitable fungicide if necessary.
Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle, usually after 5 to 6 weeks, into trays or 7.5cm (3in) pots. For bushier growth, pinch back young plants when 5 to 10cm (2 to 4in) tall. Grow on in cooler conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost.
Snapdragons are slow to germinate, and gardeners have the best success from seed sown indoors but in mild areas they can be sown from mid April until end of May in beds in open ground. Select a sunny or lightly shaded location with moderately rich and well drained soil and sow outdoors only after all danger of frost is past. Cultivate soil and firm seed into the soil, keeping it moist until the plants are established.
Snapdragons need frequent watering for the first couple of weeks after transplanting (daily watering in sandy soils). Once established, water when the top 2.5cm (1in) of soil feels dry to the touch. They do best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade.
The plants need a very well drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Pinch back your snapdragons when they are a few inches tall to encourage branching, and remove old flowers after they have bloomed to encourage further blooming.
Snapdragons are usually planted as bedding annuals, often with petunias or pansies. The short and dwarf snapdragon cultivars are excellent for border edges, raised beds and rock gardens. The dwarf and trailing cultivars are great in containers too. Use the taller varieties in the background or as the main feature in a mixed bed. Don't plant too deeply, or they may rot at the stem. Some of the tall varieties may need to be staked, use a twiggy branch for an inconspicuous support. They make great cut flowers, and are often grown in the cutting garden for use in bouquets.
To encourage autumn blooming, cut back spent flower stalks after their primary late spring, early summer bloom period.
Under favourable conditions, snapdragons will self-sow in the garden, most cultivars come true from seed.
Hardy to -18°C (0°F), they are also deer and rabbit resistant.
Beds, borders, patio containers and cut flowers. Wildlife gardens. Deer and rabbit resistant.
Allow flowers to mature and fade on the plant. Seed pods develop at the base of the flower and turn light tan to brown when mature. Attach a paper bag around seed pods using an elastic or string to catch the seeds as they fall. When the seeds are fully ripe, cut the stem at the base of the plant and shake the seed head inside the bag to dislodge the seeds from the casing.
Antirrhinum sempervirens is a hardy and rugged Snapdragon that is native to rocky, mountainous regions of Spain. Its natural habitats are rocky crags and screes in limestone, slate and schist areas.
There are about forty species of Antirrhinum, but the common snapdragon, which the famous garden writer, Gertrude Jekyll called "one of the best and most admirable of all garden plants", is by far the most well known.
Native originally to North Africa, Spain and along the Mediterranean to Italy, snapdragons have become naturalised in temperate regions. They were favourite flowers in the earliest English gardens, research indicates that snapdragons were grown more for their beauty than for their medicinal usefulness.
Antirrhinum are easy to grow and have a long been used in gardens and in the cut flower industry. The brightly coloured blossoms can also be used to dye cloth. Snapdragons perform best in cooler weather and most cultivars can tolerate frost and an occasional light freeze. They don't do well in summer heat, and in hot areas, snapdragons are grown in the winter.
Antirrhinum belong to the Scrophulariaceae, or figwort, family. There are more than 3000 species in the family. It contains no crop plants of great economic importance but is notable for many ornamental garden plants. Common relatives include Foxglove, Veronica, Penstemon and Calceolaria.
The genus name Antirrhinum, pronounced an-ti-RYE-num, comes from the Greek. anti meaning 'like,' and rhinos meaning 'nose', referring to the shape of the flowers. They often called 'calves’ snout' for the flower’s snout or nose like shape.
The species name sempervirens is taken from the Latin semper meaning ‘always’ and viridis the Latin for ‘green’ referring to its evergreen foliage.
Commonly called Snapdragons, with their two-lipped flowers, they have delighted children for generations. Pinching the blossom makes the dragon's mouth open, and snap shut.
Interestingly, in Italy rather than being a 'dragon' the flower is likened to both the lion and the wolf. The Italian common names being Bocca di Leone and Bocca di Lupo. (Lions mouth and Wolfs mouth)
This species A. sempervirens is also referred to as the Silver Snapdragon, Hardy Snapdragon or the Perennial Snapdragon.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25mg Average Seed Count 550 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds Seeds per gram 22,000 seeds per gram Family Scrophulariaceae Genus Antirrhinum Species sempervirens Common Name Perennial, Rock Snapdragon Other Language Names IR. Srubh lao Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy They tolerate temperatures down to -18°C Flowers Creamy-white blooms beautifully marked with purple in the throats. Natural Flower Time June to October Foliage Mid Green, Evergreen Height 50 to 70cm (20 to 28in) Spread 20cm (8in) Position Full sun preferred Time to Sow Sow at anytime of year. Germination 10 to 21 days at 20 to 30°C (68 to 86°F)