Toadflaxes have flowers that pop open when squeezed -- just like snapdragons. Native to Morocco, which their species name reflects, these plants should be better known for their cool season color in warmer climates and all summer blooms in cool locations.
Description of toadflax: Toadflax grows upright and branches, with flowers covering the upper third of the stems. Leaves are long and narrow. The species has blue-violet flowers with white or yellow markings, but new selections include many other colors as well: blue, lilac, pink, yellow, red, and white. They're still marked with a contrasting lip. They grow up to 1 foot tall, but often stay shorter.
Growing toadflax: Toadflax requires full sun and well-drained soil. Low fertility is preferred over a rich soil. Plant as early as the ground can be worked. Seeds can be sown indoors early or directly in the ground outside. They grow and bloom so quickly that an earlier start is not necessary, except in those areas where early heat would diminish their bloom time. Because they are small, plant or thin them to a spacing 3 to 4 inches apart. Linaria self-sows readily.
Propagating toadflax: Start new toadflax from seed. Sow outdoors as early as ground can be worked. Indoors, seed 4 to 6 weeks earlier. They germinate in 10 to 15 days at 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Uses for toadflax: Toadflax look great in the rock garden. They can also be planted in drifts in the front of borders or beds. They're lovely overplanted with bulbs. Planting them together with snapdragons combines the same flower type with an interesting contrast in size.
Toadflax related varieties: Fairy Bouquet and Fairy Lights are both mixtures containing the linaria colors of white, pink, purple, lavender, and yellow.
Scientific name of toadflax: Linaria maroccana