How To Deadhead Snapdragons (Quickly & Easily!)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Snapdragons provide a vibrant splash of color to any garden, blooming beautifully in the spring and fall. These bright blooms come in almost every color imaginable, and when cared for properly, can last a long time.

Deadheading your snapdragons regularly can help encourage bright, beautiful blossoms all season long. If you want to maintain healthy blooms, deadhead about once or twice a week to avoid seed pods. Once snapdragons produce seed heads, they shift into making more seeds instead of flowers.

Deadheading can help your snapdragons thrive, making it more likely they survive the summer heat. However, it’s essential to have some know-how first to ensure you approach the process correctly.

If you are interested in Dahlias, check out How To Deadhead Dahlias In The Ground And In Pots.

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What Is Deadheading and Why Should You Do It?

Deadheading is simply when you remove aging, dead, or damaged flowers from plants to encourage new growth. If you leave old blooms on your plants, this stifles new growth and can also lead to the entire plant’s overall decline.

Regular deadheading supports the growth of new blossoms, which improves your garden’s overall appeal. It also helps you maintain a tidier-looking garden, and it ensures your snapdragons stay healthy.

Since you should deadhead a couple of times a week, it also helps you stay in touch with your garden. It becomes a habit, and since it’s relatively quick to do, it doesn’t have to be some huge chore. Therefore, you can stay updated on how your garden is growing and stay on top of things.

Growing Snapdragons

First, you need to determine what type of snapdragons you plan to grow. Dwarf snapdragons are typically between 4 and 9 inches tall, and short varieties are about 9 to 12 inches. These varieties are good choices for planting in containers or window boxes, or small garden beds.

There are also tall snapdragons that can grow up to 36 inches tall. However, when it comes to most gardens, you’ll likely find intermediate snapdragons. These mid-size blooms stand between 12 and 24 inches high, and you can grow them relatively easily.

What Snapdragons Need to Grow

Snapdragons don’t like the winter, but they thrive the rest of the year. For best results, start your snapdragons from seed indoors, roughly two months before the final frost of the season.

Then, as the weather starts to warm up, you can transplant them into your outdoor garden. Choose a place that gets full sun or only partial shade.

Also, make sure to plant snapdragons about 6 to 10 inches apart. Plus, ensure you choose a place where they can reach their full height.

Snapdragons are not heavy feeders, and they prefer neutral soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7.0. You don’t need to add fertilizer when you plant snapdragons, but you should add it once the plant flowers. You can use a standard fertilizer for this.

It’s also essential to ensure the soil drains well, as overwatering will lead to root rot and other potential issues. Snapdragons have shallow roots that can’t absorb high quantities of water at a time. However, in times when there is no rainfall, water up to about one inch of water per week.

Finally, for continuous, beautiful blooms, ensure to deadhead your snapdragons regularly.

How to Deadhead Snapdragons

If you’ve never deadheaded snapdragons (or anything for that matter), don’t worry, it’s not a complicated task. It just takes patience and care.

Tools You Need for the Job:

  • Pruning shears (or a pair of gardening scissors) 
  • Trash bin or garbage bag
  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Water

Step 1: Disinfect Your Shears

Before you start cutting off old blooms, it’s vital to disinfect your pruning shears or gardening scissors. Every time you make a cut, clean your instruments to avoid spreading potential disease to other parts of the plant.

To create a cleaning solution, combine 9 parts water with 1 part bleach in the bucket. Each time you make a cut, place your shears in the solution. Also, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you begin.

Step 2: Locate Damaged or Dying Blooms

Regularly inspect your snapdragons for damaged or dying blooms. During peak flowering season, it’s a good idea to examine your flowers about twice a week.

Inspect the plants closely and locate any flowers with wilted petals or falling petals. Also, look for any flowers that have begun to form seed pods. These are all the flowers you’ll need to remove during the deadheading process.

Step 3: Remove Old, Damaged Blooms

For individual flowers, grasp them firmly between your forefinger and thumb and pinch them off from the spike. Make sure you also remove the swollen section near the base (this is the part that produces seeds). Additionally, don’t just remove dead or damaged petals; remove the whole flower.

If two-thirds or more of the flowers on a stalk are going to seed, remove the whole stem. Use your pruning shears to snip the entire stalk at its base, where it connects to the main plant. If you allow the plant to go to seed, it will stop producing blooms to produce seeds instead.

To encourage healthy, new growth, it might be necessary to cut the whole plant to about one-third of its height. This is especially the case if you notice numerous spent flowers.

Step 4: Sterilize Your Cutting Tools and Repeat

After every snip, sterilize your shears and repeat the process until you’ve removed all the damaged and dying flowers. As you inspect the plant, remove dying leaves as well.

Step 5: Dispose of the Snipped Flowers and Leaves

Carefully bag up all of the cut leaves, stems, and flowers and dispose of them. You can also use them for compost or leave some of the dead flowers on the ground for reseeding. However, be cautious of diseased pieces.

If you know you want snapdragons in your garden again next year, allow the seeds to form and scatter them through the garden. Then, hard prune the entire plant back to about six inches to help encourage new growth.

You can also shake the seeds from the snipped flowers into bags. Then, seal and store them in a cool, dry place until next winter. You can use these seeds to plant your new snapdragons a couple of months before the final frost of winter.

Step 6: Tend to the Soil

After deadheading your snapdragons, add fertilizer and compost to the soil.

More About Snapdragons

It’s always nice to know a little something about what you grow in your garden. Here are a few fun tidbits about the lovely snapdragon:

  • The Latin name for snapdragons is Antirrhinum, which means “like a snout.” They are from the plant family Plantaginaceae. The blooms resemble a dragon’s mouth that can open and close.
  • People also refer to snapdragons as dragon flowers.
  • Snapdragons come in about 40 different varieties, some of which are perennials, and some are annuals. However, many gardeners grow some of the perennials as annual plants. 
  • In some other countries, people call snapdragons something else, including “little lion’s mouth,” “lion’s lips,” and “rabbit’s lips.”
  • Certain cultures believe snapdragons can protect you from witchcraft.
  • Snapdragons naturally bloom in almost every color of the rainbow, but not a true blue.

Health Benefits of Snapdragons

Many people believe snapdragons possess several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and liver-purifying properties. People also use the flowers as an astringent, diuretic, and to fight off urinary tract infections.

Some also use snapdragons to help with various wounds, fever, and even hemorrhoids. You can purchase snapdragon oil online or at many stores that sell essential oils.

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Related Questions

What are some enemies of snapdragons or potential problems?

Snapdragons face a few potential challenges, one of which is watering. Snapdragons, like most plants, need water to grow, but they can’t handle too much at a time. If you overwater them, you risk mold, root rot, and other problems. However, if you don’t water them enough, the flowers wilt and die. Therefore, pay attention to the soil and only water deeply when the top two inches of soil are dry. As for animals and pests that like to make a meal of your snapdragons, there are several. Caterpillars, aphids, mites, and soil-dwelling worms are a few of the pests that pose problems for snapdragons. Also, certain birds like woodpeckers and cliff swallows like to eat the beautiful blooms. However, snapdragons are fairly deer-resistant, and rabbits don’t like them very much, so that’s a bonus!

What are good companion plants for snapdragons?

Companion planting is a great way to help certain plants and flowers thrive in your garden. Plants that make good companions for snapdragons include smaller plants like pansies. These flowers add a good splash of color in front of your snapdragons. Taller plants, like roses, could go behind your snapdragons. Basically, choose complementary flowers that work well with your snapdragon’s height. 

Can I cut snapdragon flowers for a floral arrangement?

Snapdragons make a lovely addition to floral arrangements. You can cut off a stem as soon as the flowers open so they will last longer. This won’t destroy the plant, and in fact, will help encourage more flowers to grow.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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