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5 Annuals for the Northeast


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Snapdragons
Snapdragon flowers in a field.
Snapdragon flowers in a field.
Nathan Blaney/Getty Images

­Native to the Mediterranean, snapdragons are another cool weather plant making them both popular and suitable in the Northeast. As far as the name goes, the blossoms of the flower can be snapped open and closed with your fingers, and they resemble -- that's right -- a dragon.

Like most other annuals, snapdragons are appreciate­d for their large flower heads and variety of vivid colors. What sets the snapdragon apart is its height. While some dwarf varieties of the plant only grow to 10 inches (25.4 centimeters), most reach heights of 18 to 36 inches (45.72 to 91.44 centimeters). One variety has even been developed that grows up to 5 feet (1.52 meters) tall, but it must be staked. Snapdragons can add a new dimension to any garden, literally.

A single snapdragon plant can produce up to seven or eight spikes of blossoms during the summer. They can be sown from seed or planted as cut flowers. Interestingly, this wasn't always the case. Breeders were forced to develop a shatterproof strain of snapdragon that could be planted as cut flowers, because the blossoms had a tendency to drop off very quickly after being fertilized by bees [source: Garden Guides].

When sowing snapdragons from seed, be sure to do so indoors roughly eigh­t weeks before the last frost. Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil about 6 to 12 inches (15.24 to 30.48 centimeters) apart depending on the variety. As soon as you're ready to work your garden bed, you can move them outside. Also keep in mind that snapdragons grown in a carefully controlled environment are likely to bloom sooner than those grown at home so you may just want to pick them up at your local nursery.

Snapdragons should be planted where they'll receive plenty of sunlight, but not where the temperature remains high for long periods of time. The soil needs to be rich and well drained. This seems to be a common factor among annuals of the Northeast. Pick the spent flowers regularly; this will advance the growth of new blossoms [source: Planet Natural].

Snapdragons bloom in a variety of colors including red, orange, yellow, violet and white. They also have a faint fragrance that's very pleasant. If you're looking to take your garden to new heights, snapdragons are the way to go.

If your yard is lacking light, read on to find a good annual for your needs.