The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Snapdragon Flowers

Snapdragons are impressive flowers, famous for their long stalks, bright colors, and unique blooms. These flowers also have many meanings, from grace to deception and more. Their symbolism has also changed throughout history, featuring in folklore across Europe. In this article, you’ll find out all about Snapdragon flower meaning and symbolism, as well as their uses and benefits.


Snapdragon Flower Meaning – The Essentials

The snapdragon, botanically known as Antirrhinum, symbolizes grace and strength after its upright growing habitat and harsh native habitat. They are also associated with deception. Throughout history, these flowers were used to ward off evil and bad luck. Each different color comes with a different meaning, including yellow, orange, red, purple, pink, and white.


About Snapdragons

About Snapdragons

Family, Genus, and Taxonomy

Snapdragons are part of the genus Antirrhinum. The true number of species within this genus is widely contested, but the species most focus on is Antirrhinum majus, the common Snapdragon you’ll find in home gardens.

This genus falls under the Plantaginaceae or Plantain family, containing around 1,900 species of plant. Antirrhinums are just a small part of this broad family, with the largest genus of all being Veronica – also common in home gardens.

Botanical Characteristics, Colors, Fragrances

Snapdragons are generally planted as annuals, beloved for their bright blooms in various colors. Due to their tolerance for many growing conditions, they are ideal for beds and borders featuring a range of heights to suit every need.

The flowers come in almost every color, including pink, red, white, yellow, and orange. You can even find multicolored Snapdragons with bright colors combined in interesting patterns. They also have a light fragrance that becomes stronger at night. A gentle floral scent, it has been given many descriptions, from apple to bubble gum.

History & Origins of Snapdragons

Snapdragons are native to several continents, believed to originate in Europe, North America, and even parts of Africa. They were primarily concentrated around the Mediterranean region, growing in rocky and warm areas.

From here, these popular garden plants were spread around the world and quickly became backyard favorites – a title they continue to hold today.

Popular Types, Species, and Cultivars

For those who like a bit of variety in their garden, you’ll undoubtedly be satisfied with Snapdragons. There are many cultivars of this beautiful plant, most of them falling under the common or annual Snapdragon category.

Take a look at your local nursery to find what will grow best in your area, or try looking for these popular types:

  • Madame Butterfly: Large double blooms in white, orange, red, purple, pink, and more.
  • Lucky Lips: Bright white flowers with stark pink centers.
  • Cinderella: Single blooms in a range of warm colors from red to yellow.
  • Black Prince: Deep purple blooms that look almost black in the right lighting conditions.

Etymological Meaning

The name Antirrhinum is from the Greek for nose (rhin). It translates to nose-like, referencing the interesting shapes of the flowers.

The common name is also a reference to the shapes of the flowers and the action they perform when squeezed. The flowers have been compared to a dragon’s face, snapping shut when the sides of the bloom are pushed together.

They are also commonly called dog flowers, possibly after their other Greek name, kynokephelon, meaning dog-headed.

Uses and Benefits of Snapdragons

Uses and Benefits of Snapdragons

Snapdragons are incredibly versatile plants for many uses in the garden. They have the ability to brighten any space with their colorful blooms. Plus, with such a wide range of colors, you can find a Snapdragon perfectly suited to your garden design.

Compact types are great for planting in the front of beds, ready to remove once their season is over. Taller cultivars can be mixed in with other wildflowers for a rambling cottage garden feel. They also make excellent container plants, with some flowers cascading over the edges to make an impressive display.

These plants are arguably most famous for their use as a cut flower. The tall stalks of Snapdragons are ideal additions to both large and small bouquets. They are often gifted on their own or used in a mixed bouquet to fill space. The white Snapdragons, in particular, are popular choices for wedding bouquets.

But that’s not all they’re suitable for. The flowers and leaves are said to have anti-inflammatory properties that are useful in healing external wounds. The blooms are often used to garnish desserts or salads, but they don’t have a great taste although edible.

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Snapdragon Flowers

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Snapdragon Flowers

Snapdragons have been given a few meanings throughout history that make them great for gifting.

Their height and the upright nature of the blooms have made the flowers synonymous with grace. Thanks to their rocky and sometimes harsh native habitats, they are also associated with strength.

But not all meanings of these precious plants are positive. They also symbolize deception, said to be sent between forbidden lovers in Victorian Times.

Snapdragons can also have slightly different meanings depending on the specific color you choose.

Meanings By Color

Meanings By Color

Pink Snapdragon Flower Meaning

Pink Snapdragons perfectly align with the flower’s original meaning of grace and beauty. There are many different pinks to choose from, from a soft and gentle blush to a more intense and bright neon. They are great touches to any bouquet and make beautiful gifts for Mother’s Day.

Purple Snapdragon Flower Meaning

Purple Snapdragons are generally associated with spirituality. But, like other purple flowers, they can also symbolize royalty. Gift these to someone you genuinely admire to convey this meaning best.

Red Snapdragon Flower Meaning

Deep red Snapdragons symbolize passion and romance. They are generally gifted to loved ones on special occasions, either on their own or combined with other classic romantic flowers like the red rose.

Yellow Snapdragon Flower Meaning

Yellow flowers signify positive energy, friendship, and happiness, and yellow Snapdragons are no different. They are great versatile options for any occasion, bound to brighten the recipient’s day no matter the reason. Many common Snapdragon colors feature this color, from a sunny yellow to a gentler cream.

Orange Snapdragon Flower Meaning

Fiery orange Snapdragons are also a symbol of positive energy and excitement. This color is ideal for congratulations in the case of a promotion or graduation gift. They can make a warm and captivating display combined with yellow and red to exemplify the summer season.

White Snapdragon Flower Meaning

One of the most popular Snapdragon colors, white symbolizes innocence, purity, and grace. This makes them perfect for wedding arrangements or as compliments to any special bouquet.

Snapdragon Flower Meaning Throughout History

Snapdragon Meanings Throughout History

In Medieval Europe, Snapdragons were used as a form of protection to ward off evil and bad luck. They were planted around the borders of cities, hung above cribs to protect children, and turned into necklaces as a mobile protector.

This could stem from the same Ancient Greek belief that Snapdragons would bring their wearer protection from evil and give them good health.

In the Victorian Language of Flowers, Snapdragons symbolized honesty and truth-telling. They were often sent between romantic partners and used as an apology flower.


Suitable Gifting Occasions for Snapdragons

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Snapdragons

With so many colors and sizes, Snapdragons are a great gift for almost any occasion. Their overall symbolism of grace and strength makes them perfect for someone you admire, whether that be friends, family, or a close loved one. Choose the right color to match your meaning and tailor the message to the occasion.


Snapdragon Flower FAQs:

What does a Snapdragon flower symbolize?

Snapdragons symbolize grace, strength, and deception. Each color comes with a slightly different meaning too, from innocence to spirituality.

Are Snapdragons lucky?

Yellow and orange Snapdragons are said to symbolize positive energy and good luck. Throughout history, the blooms were believed to ward off bad luck but did not necessarily bring good luck at the same time.

Do Snapdragons come back every year?

While some Snapdragon types are grown as perennials, common Snapdragons are generally grown as annuals, removed from the garden at the end of the season.

Do Snapdragons flower more than once?

Deadheading spent flowers across the season can encourage more blooms on the same plant. When grown in the right zones, they can flower the following season again, but generally perform better when grown as annuals.


The Final Word

With several uses and benefits, along with many special meanings, Snapdragons are flowers that truly have it all. Grow them in your garden or gift them as cut flowers to send a special someone a special message.

Editorial Director | Full Bio | + posts

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

Author

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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