Snapdragons have been a staple in cottage gardens for centuries. They are excellent plants for filling in color in a garden. They are popular with florists as they make excellent cut flowers and provide a saturation of color in any arrangement.
Snapdragons belong to the genus Antirrhinum. They are sometimes called dragon flowers or dog flowers. They have an opening (likened to a dragon or dog’s mouth) that opens and closes with slight pressure on the flower.
Snapdragons may be annuals or perennials. They have simple narrow dark green leaves shaped like a lance. The tubular flowers may be white, red, pink, yellow, lavender, or orange. Some cultivars have multiple colors in one bloom.
Snapdragons may grow from six to forty-eight inches depending on the species and cultivar. The varieties are divided into dwarf, medium, and tall snapdragons.
Some plants are similar to snapdragons.
- Monkey flower
- Spurred Snapdragon
- Veronica speedwell
Angelonia is often known as summer snapdragons or angelface flowers. They belong to the same plant family, Plantaginaceae, as snapdragons. Angelonias are herbaceous perennials that are often grown as annuals. They are drought tolerant, growing natively in arid and semi-arid environments.
Angelonias have narrow green leaves with serrated margins. They flower profusely in late spring and summer. Like snapdragons, they produce flower spikes that bear many flowers.
The flowers resemble small snapdragons. They grow in a host of different colors, and many varieties have two or more colors on one flower.
Angelonia flowers have a distinctive scent that many people liken to grape soda. The scent and the easy maintenance of these plants make them a firm favorite with gardeners. They tolerate high heat and humidity as well as drought, and they are resistant to most diseases.
Foxgloves (digitalis) consist of approximately twenty species of plants that are herbaceous and perennial. They vary in size and contain cardiac and steroidal glycosides, which, although useful medically, are harmful toxins.
Foxgloves have emerald green spear-shaped leaves that are large and wavy. They generally produce flowers in their second year of growth, making them biennial plants. The flowers grow on tall, stately spikes. They are tubular or bell-shaped and droop downwards from the spike. Some flower spikes may be so heavy with flowers that they will need staking.
Foxglove flowers can be purple, pink, or white. The inner surface of the flower is often spotted to entice bumblebees and hummingbirds to feed on the flowers. The spikes of flowers are strongly reminiscent of snapdragons.
3. Monkey Flowers
Monkey flowers (Mimulus spp) belong to the Phyrmaceae family. The plant got its name from the flowers, which resemble an opened-mouth monkey sticking out its tongue. It is a shrub that reaches two to three feet tall.
Monkey flowers have narrow thin leaves. The blossoms are large, up to fifteen inches long. The flowers may be red, scarlet, peach, purple mahogany, or pink. Many of the flowers have spotted trails or inner surfaces attracting the pollinators into the flower. Snapdragons employ the same mechanism.
Monkey plants can be grown in pots or garden beds. They grow best in the sun or partial shade, attracting many insects and hummingbirds to the garden.
Beardtongues or Penstemons belong to the same family as snapdragons, Plantaginaceae. They grow indigenously in North America. They vary considerably in size from six inches to eight feet tall.
Penstemons are herbaceous perennials valued as ornamental plants. Like snapdragons, many beardtongues have lance-shaped thin leaves, although they are known for producing differently shaped leaves on the same plant. There is a wide leaf shape variation. Some cultivars may have broad or round leaves.
Beardtongues produce tall spikes of flowers that are pink, white, salmon, lavender, red, purple, and sometimes yellow. The flowers are tubular, consisting of five petals and a pollen-free stamen which protrudes from the flower. The stamen gives the plant the name beardtongue.
Beardtongues grow in full sun and rocky or sandy soil. They require good soil drainage to thrive and tolerate moderately dry conditions. They are a good alternative to snapdragons if you have a dry climate and a rocky garden.
5. Spurred Snapdragons
Spurred snapdragon ‘Fairy bouquet’ (Linaria maroccana) is an annual that reliably produces brilliant color in the garden. Spurred snapdragons grow in full sun or partial shade to a height of one to two feet. They are adaptable to both dry and moist soils, making it an easy plant to grow.
Spurred snapdragons have thin green, strap-like leaves approximately two inches long. They produce long stems of tubular flowers that look like miniature snapdragons. The flowers are pink, purple, red, violet, and orange, with yellow throats, commonly occurring. These plants are well-loved for their delicate little flowers.
Spurred snapdragons attract many insects and birds, making them ideal for wildlife gardens. They grow easily from seed and are mostly grown in borders.
Toadflax is a similar plant to spurred snapdragons as it belongs to the same family and genus. It is sometimes known as wild snapdragons, and its Latin name is Linaria vulgaris. It grows on wasteland and disturbed soil, so may be seen on the verges of roads, railways, and cultivated fields.
Toadflax has yellow blossoms that resemble snapdragons. They usually have darker yellow or orange throats and grow on a flower stalk or spike. It has profuse narrow lance-shaped leaves that are grey-green.
Toadflax flowers throughout summer and autumn, providing a splash of color as many plants are preparing for winter.
7. Veronica Speedwell
Veronica speedwell (Veronica longifolia) is sometimes called blue speedwell. It is a perennial ground cover or an upright plant that can be a few feet tall. Speedwell grows in various soils and climates. It is known as a hardy plant that thrives with minimal care.
Speedwell has deep green, silver, or gold leaves with toothed margins. Groundcover speedwells produce small flower spikes, and upright plants have longer ones. The flower spikes can be blue, purple, pink, or white and resemble snapdragons.
Speedwell groundcovers usually bloom in spring, and the upright flowers bloom in summer, but there are variations with different cultivars.
Delphinium, also known as larkspur, belongs to the buttercup or Ranunculaceae family. They are indigenous to most European countries and some parts of Africa. Delphiniums vary in size from short plants to some that are seven feet tall.
Delphiniums have deeply lobed serrated leaves resembling maple leaves. The flowers grow on tall flower spikes, similar to snapdragons.
Delphinium flowers may be white, pink, yellow, or purple but are most well-known for their various shades of blue blossoms. The flowers are densely packed on the spike, giving an intense color experience. The shape of the flowers varies with the cultivar.
There are many different species that are adapted to climatic conditions. Some are cold-tolerant, and others are better in hotter climates. Some species are toxic, which must be considered when planting them.
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides nonscripta) are also called common bluebells or wood hyacinths. Bluebells are common garden plants but grow indigenously in protected woodlands in the United Kingdom.
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They have three to six narrow leaves that grow from the base of the stem. The flowers are borne on a raceme or flower spike, which can be twenty inches tall. The flowers are tubular or bell-shaped and less than one inch long. They droop downwards, similar to snapdragons.
In accordance with their name, bluebells have blue flowers that can vary in hue. They have a strong sweet scent which adds to their popularity with gardeners.