Snapdragon: Meaning, Symbolism, and Proper Occasions

Pink snapdragon field
© 271 EAK MOTO/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sammi Caramela

Updated: August 22, 2023

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The snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) is a colorful flower that’s native to the United States, Europe, Canada, and North Africa. Also called “dragon flowers” and “dog flowers,” these plants grow blossoms that look like dragon faces, opening and closing when laterally squeezed. They come in an array of colors, including bright pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, peach, purple, and white. Many are even bicolored.

Snapdragons represent various meanings — some positive and some negative. For instance, the flower symbolizes deception and deviousness but also resembles grace and strength. Spiritually, many also believe snapdragons protect you from dark magic or harmful witchcraft. In fact, the plant supposedly has magical properties.

The origin of snapdragons is unknown, but many believe the plant grew freely as wildflowers in Spain and Italy. Today, these flowers can thrive in outdoor gardens, on patios, or as indoor plants. Many purchase bouquets of snapdragons for special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays. Their bright colors and long vase life makes them the perfect gift — especially if you’re expressing gratitude, as snapdragons represent graciousness.   

There are many different meanings of the snapdragons. In folklore, the flower is referenced as a source of protection and charm. Read on to learn more about what snapdragons symbolize and the special occasions they’re often used for. 

What Is a Snapdragon?

The snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), also known as the “dragon flower” or “dog flower,” is a perennial (sometimes annual) flowering plant. They typically bloom during spring and autumn, as they prefer cooler climates. However, if you’re in a cooler climate, they can do well during the summer; and if you’re in a milder, warmer climate, they might even survive during the winter months. They also often repeat bloom in a given season and are short-lived.

Snapdragons can thrive indoors and outdoors, in gardens, potted, or even planters. The plant’s beautiful, cheery flowers make a great addition to any yard or home. However, they do require bright sun and plenty of water.

Ping flowers in the garden called Snapdragon or Antirrhinum majus or Bunny rabbits.

Snapdragons do well outdoors and indoors with bright, direct sunlight and plenty of water.

©Nualanong/Shutterstock.com

Appearance

Snapdragons are known for their bright hues of red, orange, purple, yellow, white, and other colors. Their flowers appear like a dragon’s head, opening and closing when squeezed. Snapdragons feature large, puffed, or fringed/ruffled petals and lance-shaped leaves. The top of the flowers features what looks like a mouth, which can close on and capture insects

There are a few varieties of snapdragons, with the smallest ones between 6 to 15 inches tall, mid-sized varieties between 15 to 30 inches tall, and tall varieties between 30 to 48 inches tall.

Native Habitat

The snapdragon, a member of the Plantaginaceae family, originated in the Mediterranean. Many believe they were originally wildflowers in Italy and Spain. Today, the flower has also become naturalized across the U.S., Europe, Canada, and North Africa. They’re used for various occasions and in various locations, such as in gardens, flowerbeds, on patios, or even indoors. Many will even purchase flower bouquets or cut them from their own garden to keep in a vase, as they are durable and long-lasting flowers.

Growing Tips

Snapdragons grow best in cool temperatures (between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) and can tolerate some light frost. They prefer full sunlight for at least six hours a day but can survive in partial shade. Additionally, they do well in environments with average humidity.

In terms of soil and water, they thrive in moist, well-draining soil that’s high in organic matter. You should water the plants in the morning before they get their direct sunlight, totaling about one inch of water per week. A general roil of thumb is to keep their soil slightly moist, never allowing it to dry up. 

When it comes to fertilizing snapdragons, use a 10-10-10 fertilizer, which is an all-purpose, balanced, and versatile fertilizer. Not all snapdragon species will require fertilizer, but you should consider it if you’re growing taller species for cutting. 

Can Snapdragons Be Grown Outside?

Yes, you can grow snapdragons outside. In fact, these plants thrive outdoors in gardens, pots, and plant beds. So long as you provide the right environment for them with moist soil, a cool temperature, and full sunlight, you shouldn’t run into any issues growing snapdragons outdoors. These flowers are extremely durable. Even if wildlife like deer trample the flowers or squirrels try to dig them up, they’ll recover quickly due to their deep roots and woody stems. 

Snapdragon Meaning and Symbolism

The snapdragon is a highly referenced flower in folklore. Many know it as a plant of protection, guarding recipients from evil spirits. The botanical name Antirrhinum majus derives from the Greek words “anti,” which translates to “like,” and “rhin,” which translates to “nose.” This directly represents the plant’s snout-shaped flowers. 

When it comes to its specific symbolism, the snapdragon has various meanings. Let’s dive into a few below.

Snapdragons. Snapdragon pink flowers in the garden. Spring and summer background. Vertical photo

Snapdragon flowers get their name from the bloom’s head: if you pinch it just right, the flower opens like the mouth of a dragon!

©iStock.com/Borislav

Protection and Magic

In folklore, snapdragons serve as sources of protection from witchcraft. The plant’s vibrant flowers are majestical and radiate positive energy and cheer. This is said to ward off evil spirits or negative energy that might otherwise harm a person. 

If you have snapdragons in your garden or home, you can rest knowing these gorgeous plants are not only adding beauty to your space but also cleansing it of dark energy, according to some cultures.

Graciousness and Elegance

In addition to their protective qualities, snapdragons also represent graciousness and elegance. Despite their dainty exterior, they can thrive in cool temperatures and even tolerate frost. Additionally, these plants can grow in rocky areas, symbolizing the ability to remain gracious and maintain peace in any environment.

Grace and Strength

Snapdragons’ dainty yet captivating blooms, durable roots, sturdy stems, and tall heights embody grace and strength. The flower makes for a beautiful addition to any home or garden, radiating beauty and cheer. Many believe the plant represents the ability to wear grace despite external pressures or challenging circumstances, pointing to deep inner strength. 

Deception and Concealment

Perhaps a less positive meaning, snapdragons often represent deception or deceit. This might be due to the flower’s mouth-like petals that close around and often conceal insects when lightly squeezed. Others believe it’s due to the plant’s ability to grow in rocky terrain.

Another potential reason for this symbolism is that, according to legends, “concealing” a snapdragon makes you more appealing, intriguing, and cordial to others. So, if you walk around with a snapdragon flower hidden in your purse or pocket, you might notice more people are drawn to you and your energy, deeming you charming.

Spiritual Significance

As noted earlier, snapdragons hold spiritual significance. The plant thrives and stands strong despite its harsh native habitat — the ultimate symbol of strength. As a result, these plants are often associated with deception, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, deceit is often a source of protection. If your enemy doesn’t know your truth, they won’t be able to hurt you. This is precisely why many people used snapdragons throughout history to fight off evil spirits and cleanse the air of negative or dark energies. According to folklore, receiving snapdragons or keeping them in your home will divinely protect you and your space.

Snapdragons Proper Occasions

Snapdragons are popular for their cheery appearance and durable nature. You can use snapdragons to celebrate or commemorate various events, buy them as gifts for certain holidays, or use them as the center of a beautiful bouquet. With their gorgeous, colorful, and aromatic blossoms, these versatile plants can accompany many occasions. 

white snapdragon

White snapdragons are perfect for weddings, anniversaries, and other celebrations.

©Tom Meaker/Shutterstock.com

Weddings

Snapdragons grace any room they’re in. Whether you want to select white flowers to match the purity of the day or add a pop of color by choosing red or pink snapdragons, snapdragons make the perfect wedding flower. Whether it’s for your wedding bouquet or reception centerpieces, snapdragons and their gorgeous, fragrant blossoms will provide a great aesthetic to your big day.

Also, they will protect your love and marriage spiritually by warding off any negativity, or evil wishes sent your way.

Birthday

Birthdays are a time for celebration, and with their promise of positive energy, snapdragons are a great gift option. Consider buying a bouquet of colorful snapdragons for your loved one’s special day so they can rest assured they’ll be entering the next year with a good omen. These flowers can ensure the energy is pure for the year ahead while protecting the recipient from any negative energies they want to leave behind.

Hard Times

We all need a dose of good luck during hard times. If someone you love is enduring a difficult period, whether they’re battling a bout of depression, struggling with anxiety, going through a breakup, or is simply down on their luck, gifting them snapdragons can not only boost their spirits, but it can also help keep them safe.

If you believe in the spiritual meaning of snapdragons, you might also consider that these plants can cleanse your loved one’s energy and environment, ensuring protection from any negativity that might be following them.

Sick Days or Hospital Stays

As stated above, many recognize snapdragons as a protective resource. If a loved one recently had surgery, is battling the flu, or is fighting a serious illness, consider surprising them with a bouquet of gorgeous snapdragons to help renew and uplift their energy. 

Additionally, this bright and cheery flower will easily make anyone’s day. Even just adding a pop of color to an otherwise dreary room (especially in a hospital) can do wonders for your mental health, which contributes to your overall well-being.

Funerals and Memorials

When we lose a loved one, we can feel like a part of us has died. Grief is an excruciating process that can do a number on our mental health and cause us to feel isolated, lonely, and even misunderstood. While flowers can’t bring a person back, they can serve as a reminder that even when things get hard, we can still continue to blossom.

Due to their representation of graciousness and strength, snapdragons are the perfect plants to support your loved one and express your care for them. You can buy them a bouquet of bright-colored flowers for their home or even purchase seeds so they have something to nurture.

Whether you’re observing a special day or offering support during hard times, you can’t go wrong with the versatile snapdragon. If the energy is dark, the flowers will cleanse and brighten it; if the energy is already high, the flowers will contribute to the cheer and celebration.


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About the Author

Sammi is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering cats, nature, symbolism, and spirituality. Sammi is a published author and has been writing professionally for six+ years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Writing Arts and double minors in Journalism and Psychology. A proud New Jersey resident, Sammi loves reading, traveling, and doing yoga with her little black cat, Poe.

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