The British Snapdragon Fact File
LATIN NAME: Antirrhinum majus
COMMON NAME: Snapdragon
AVAILABILITY: June to October, depending on the weather
COLOUR RANGE: White, cream, yellow, orange, pink, red
BEST BUYING DAYS AT New Covent Garden Flower Market: Monday and Thursday
The Origins of Snapdragon:
The snapdragon belongs to the antirrhinum genus, and grows wild in rocky areas in Europe, North America and Northern Africa.
The antirrhinum derived its affectionate common name of snapdragons from the theory that when you squeeze the flowerheads, the flowerheads look like a dragon opening and closing its mouth – after a glass or two, perhaps?
“You say snapdragon, I say antirrhinum.”
Not the most catchy of lyrics, perhaps, but the debate rages about whether the cut flower industry should refer to these flowers by the Latin name or their common name.
Gill Hodgson, the founder of the Flowers from the Farm network, has very strong views on the subject. To her mind, if the buying public has a sentimental attachment to snapdragons as flowers of idyllic country gardens, growers and retailers should embrace it wholeheartedly.
We agree and henceforth will use the word snapdragon!
Myths and legends abound about the snapdragon. It is said that concealing a snapdragon about your person makes you seem fascinating and cordial.
Perhaps this is why snapdragons can mean deception in the language of flowers. A far preferable meaning is graciousness or ‘gracious lady’.
Oh, and bees love them. Can you spot the bee buzzing into shot for the British Flowers Week photoshoot?
Snapdragon as a cut flower
A single flowering spike of the snapdragon holds dozens of small soft rounded flowerheads.
These annual flowers are the classics of the country garden, and they are right back on trend with their fancy Latin name of antirrhinums. How can you not love these tall-stemmed flowers?!
Wonderful in bouquets and vase arrangements, snapdragons are a florist’s versatile favourite. You can even deconstruct them flowerhead by flowerhead and wire them individually, or snap the snapdragon and use the flowertip and lower stems for a shorter arrangement.
That’s what clever Charlotte Slade did for British Flowers Week! See the designs here.
Depending on the season, you can buy snapdragons from June to as late as October.
Look for stems where the lower florets are full open and in full colour and the higher buds are starting to show a hint of colour.
The stems should be firm and the foliage green and fresh – too much droop and those snapdragons are parched.
If you talk snapdragons to your wholesalers, they will know what you mean, but the trade does refer to them as antirrhinums above all else.
Snapdragons are sensitive summer beauties. With a bit of love and care, they will last for up to 10 days.
They are particularly susceptible to ethylene, so you need to keep them well clear of the fruit bowl. They are very thirsty flowers, so give them plenty of water and keep those water levels topped up to the max. Snapdragons love a bit of flower food too, so if you have it, use it and your flowers will thank you.
So, here are our classic tips for ensuring that all your British flowers last as long as possible:
- ensure that your vase is scrupulously clean so that there are no bacteria lurking around
- remove any leaves that would be below the water line to stop any rot
- trim the flower stems to the preferred length
- arrange the stems in your clean vase filled with fresh water mixed with the flower food provided
- keep your flowers out of direct sunlight, away from radiators, drafts and even from your fruit bowl (ethylene shortens vase life)
- trim the stems and top up the vase every day
WHERE TO BUY
Depending on the season, British snapdragons are available from June to October, when the main deliveries come fresh into the Flower Market from the growers for Monday and Thursday morning trading.
Key wholesalers of British Snapdragons include:
If you have any top tips on British snapdragons, we would love to hear from you. Simply write your comments in the box below.