Posts Tagged ‘snapdragon’

Super snapdragons for longer flowering

December 6th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Antirrhinum 'Madame Butterfly' (left), 'Twinny Rose' (top right) and 'Antiquity'

We all know the snapdragon flower, the antirrhinum. Squeeze the sides of the tube at the back and the lips at the front part as the flower opens. And when a bumble bee lands on the lip the weight of the bee opens the flower so that the bee can get inside to do its pollination duty.

But as soon as the flower is pollinated, well, its job is done and the flower hastens towards shrivelling up and falling off. Not necessarily… Some snapdragons have flowers in a slightly different shape, a shape that hinders rather than helps pollination and encourages the flowers to last longer. There are two types.

Some, including ‘Antiquity’ and ‘ReminiScent’ have open flared flowers with no obvious landing point for a bumble bee and no familiar symmetry guiding the bee to land in the right place to pick up pollen to carry off to another flower. The almost-trumpet shape also shows off more colour.

And then there are double flowered forms, and especially the ‘Madame Butterfly’ mixture and ‘Twinny Rose’, where the centre of the flower s full of extra petals. This, again makes pollination difficult, and although it usually works in the end, as it does with all these varieties, the delay gives us a few extra days of colour.

‘Twinny Rose’ and the ‘Antiquity’ mixture are shorter varieties for the edges of sunny patio pots while the lemon-scented ‘ReminiScent’ mixture and the ‘Madame Butterfly’ mixture are taller, for borders, although ‘Madame Butterfly’ is especially good for cutting.

No rush to sow, spring is fine, but it pays to get your seed order in early – just in case…

Snap to it for snapdragons

June 28th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Overwintered antirrhinum for cutting

I grew some tall antirrhinums last year. Many of them I cut for the house, and very pretty they were too. Some I left to do their thing in the garden and, I have to say, they were not dead-headed as diligently as I recommend here!

But the result was that seedlings started to pop up – not many, but enough to notice and enough to decide just to leave them to see what happened. And most of them survived the winter… and grew away in spring… and some were infected by rust disease and some not… and they began flowering in May.

So, I thought to myself, why not deliberately sow them in summer? And then I remembered what I’d said in my book on annuals from over thirty years ago, I recommended that antirrhinums be pulled up and prevented from overwintering as part of an approach to combating rust disease.

Yes, those antirrhinums of mine that overwintered were infected by rust, but not severely. One died, I think, and the rest grew out of it in spring.

The problem with sowing outside in the garden during July or August is finding a sunny place that’s not already occupied. If you have such a spot, sow thinly, thin to about 10-15cm, and transplant alternate seedlings elsewhere in the autumn.

But sowing in large cells is a better bet. You can use the plug trays that your mail order seedlings came in, wash them thoroughly and sow a few seeds in each. Keep them cool and moist, move them into a brighter place when they’ve emerged, thin the seedlings to one or two and plant when their roots start to fill the cells. Choose one of the taller varieties such as ‘Tootsie’ with flowers in pure white and rich pink or medium height varieties such as ‘Night And Day’. I think it’s well worth a try.

A super rosy snapdragon

February 15th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Antirrhinim 'Twinny Rose'

The wild snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus, is native to southern Europe and was probably grown in Britain long before Linnaeus formalised its name in 1753. Always appealing, if only because of the way we can make the flowers open their mouths by pinching them at the sides, it’s been constantly developed and improved.

We’ve had tall cut flower types a metre high, tiny bushy ones and trailers for hanging baskets. We’ve had two different kinds of variegated ones and we’ve had bronze-leaved ones. We’ve had flowers in every colour but blue, including some striking bicolours, and we’ve had varieties with flared instead of two-lipped flowers and some with almost double flowers. We even have a few with scent.

‘Twinny Rose’ is the prettiest of the seven varieties in the Twinny Series, but they all combine a number of valuable features. They’re dwarf, but not too dwarf – about 30cm – and make low rounded plants that are good at the front of borders or at the edge of tubs.

The flowers are a lovely soft rose pink, in fact they open pale rose pink and then darken as they mature so each plant will be covered in flowers in different rosy shades.

The individual flowers are flared, with extra petals in the centre. The great thing about this is that the bees find the flowers difficult to pollinate – and it’s pollination that triggers the fading of the flowers. So the flowers last longer.

‘Twinny Rose’ is a lovely little snapdragon and this year it’s available as young plants as well as from seed. Well worth a try, don’t you think?