In the Garden:
Middle South
August, 2000
Regional Report

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Poke holes in seedling cups for drainage.

Snapdragon Dreams

I don't like to sweat for my flowers, so naturally I'm enchanted with hardy annuals. In our region that means plants that are set out in fall for bloom the following spring. Snapdragons are a favorite in this group because they stand at attention so well and so long, in the garden and in a vase. And, while the yellow and red ones sold as bedding plants are fine, fancier varieties fill my gardening dreams. I want them. I need them. So, this week I'm starting them from seed indoors, in air-conditioned comfort.

Sprouting Snapdragons

Snapdragons like coolish 65F to 70F temperatures and darkness to sprout quickly. You can use whatever containers are handy - flats, recycled cellpacks, or my favorites: small styrofoam cups with drainage holes punched in the bottom with a sharp pencil. It's simple to fill cups with soilless seed starting mix, dampen it thoroughly with water, and then plant the seeds by barely pressing them into the moistened medium. To maintain moist conditions, I enclose the planted containers in loose, clear plastic bags. Then everything goes into a dark closet until the seeds sprout - usually about a week.



Planting My Snaps

Snapdragons grow best under cool growing conditions, so until the weather cools down outside, I grow them inside under a grow light and in an air-conditioned environment. A sunny windowsill will do, too, though it's important to turn the seedlings one-fourth turn each day to keep them growing straight.

Planting Outside

A broad band along a walkway, roughly 16 inches wide, is just right for a double row of snaps. Because winter can be rough on these plants, I plant them in a bed with a southern exposure and some protection from bitter winter winds. An inch of compost worked into the bed, a dusting of lime (to nudge the pH toward 6.0), and voila, the bed is made. The seedlings are planted by early October, and one of my favorite miracles of spring is poised to happen.


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