These perennially popular spiky blooms impart a gardeny ambiance to arrangements for all occasions year-round.

name games
Snapdragons are botanically known as Antirrhinum majus (an-ti-RYE-num MAY-jus)—Antirrhinum being derived from the Greek “anti” (like) and “rhis” (nose, snout), in reference to the shape of the individual florets, which are said to resemble a dragon’s mouth. The specific epithet “majus” means large.

physical exam
Snapdragons are spike flowers, with clusters of small two-lipped florets occurring on the upper portions of tall, thin leafy stems that typically range from 24 to 36 inches in length.

except green or blue
Hues are wide ranging and include red, burgundy, rose, pink, magenta, purple, lavender, orange, salmon, yellow, white and ivory as well as bicolors.

when and where
Although they’re often thought of as summer garden flowers, as cut flowers, snapdragons are available year-round from both domestic and foreign growers.

Around 60 millions stems of snapdragons are available for sale annually in the U.S. Roughly two-thirds of these snapdragons are grown domestically, and approximately one-third are imported, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

wise buy
Purchase snapdragons that have one-third to one-half of the bottom florets open and buds at the tips that are showing color. Look for sturdy, straight stems, and avoid bunches with yellowing foliage. Also look for the newer varieties that are less sensitive to ethylene gas; check with your favorite supplier to find out which those are. (See “Issues with Ethyl.”)

outside the box
Unpack these flowers as soon as they arrive in your shop, and remove any stem bindings. You may leave sleeves on at this point, until flowers are hydrated, to protect the flowers and encourage straight bloom spikes.

leave leaves
Remove any foliage from the stems that would be under water in storage containers; however, do not remove more leaves than necessary because doing so, like exposure to ethylene gas, can stimulate flower drop. (See “Issues with Ethyl.”)

ready for a drink
Recut stem ends with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch to eliminate dirt and microbes. Immediately dip or place stem ends into a hydration solution to help the flowers absorb water quickly, then place them into a properly proportioned flower-food solution. With snapdragons, flower-food solution not only improves the opening of florets and increases these flowers’ vase life but it also improves the color of the florets.

standing tall
Snapdragons are geotropic (affected by the force of gravity), and the tips of the flower spikes will curve upwards if the stems are laid horizontally or placed at an angle in containers, so always store them vertically in tall buckets. Treatment with an antiethylene product also can greatly reduce stem curving. (See “Issues with Ethyl.”)

cool condition
Immediately after processing snapdragons, place them into a floral cooler, at 33 F to 35 F, to hydrate for at least two hours before selling or arranging them.

lights on
Without sufficient light, snapdragon colors can fade dramatically; so, when storing these flowers in your cooler, leave the lights on.

issues with ethyl
Most varieties of snapdragons are highly sensitive to ethylene gas, which causes florets to drop (older florets are more susceptible to ethylene than younger ones). While some newer cultivars have been hybridized to be resistant to ethylene, it is wise to ensure all your snapdragon purchases are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower or during shipping. This treatment also can reduce geotropic curving of flower spikes when bunches are placed horizontally for storage or transport.

Protect these flowers from sources of ethylene (fruit, decaying flowers/foliage, cigarette smoke and vehicle exhaust) in your shop and during delivery.

time of their life
Even with proper care and environmental conditions, vase life at the consumer level is relatively short—five to eight days—and it varies by cultivar, so it is best to sell snapdragons within two days of receipt in your store.

relatively speaking
Snapdragons are members of the Scrophulariaceae (figwort) family. Close relatives include foxglove (Digitalis), speedwell (Veronica), pocketbook flower (Calceolaria), mullein (Verbascum) and Penstemon.

born and bred
Snapdragons are native to the Mediterranean region of southwest Europe (Spain, France and Italy).

make it snappy

You can open and close individual blooms (the “dragon’s mouth”) by gently squeezing the sides of a floret.

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