Sultan Snapdragons

December 12, 2003 - 08:03

These vegetative snapdragons are multiple award winners.

What makes the Sultan series so much better than other
trailing snapdragons is its beautifully mounded habit that's literally covered
with blooms, unlike most other trailing snapdragons, which have very few blooms
near the crown.

Growers will appreciate the benefits of growing these
snapdragons. Sultans have been noted at numerous trialing sites as being
earlier than other trailing snapdragons on the market. In addition, the highly
branched habit of these super-performers makes them a great choice for 4-inch
or larger containers, hanging baskets or in mixed containers.

Results from the 2003 Colorado State University Annual
Flower Trial rated 'Sultan Light Yellow' as Best of Trial in its class. In the
2003 Pennsylvania State University Annual Flower Trial, Sultan Light Yellow was
again chosen as the Best of Species and the Best Overall Snapdragon.

The Sultan series consists of ten rich colors: Bronze,
Lavender, Light Pink, Light Yellow, Purple, Red, Red & Yellow, Rose, White
and Yellow. Sultans are available in both unrooted and rooted form. Check with
your broker for availability of Sultan snapdragons.


Prior to receiving your unrooted cuttings, make sure your
propagation area is clean and disinfected. The use of a rooting hormone will
encourage uniform rooting; however, excess hormones can cause damage. Select a
porous media that drains well. A pre-plant charge of micro and macro nutrients
is recommended. A bottom heat temperature of 70-74° F is encouraged to
promote rooting. Rooting time is 28 days. During the rooting phase, cuttings
will require misting for the first 4-6 days or until roots begin to push into
the media. Mist as needed to keep the cuttings turgid and prevent wilting. A
good rule of thumb is to keep the media wet to the touch (80-90 percent
humidity) but not so wet that water puddles to the touch, which would be the
point of saturation.

Shade the cuttings for the first week at 1,500-2,000
foot-candles. Once the cuttings are fully established with roots, light levels
may be increased to 3,500-4,500 foot-candles. The ideal air temperature is
between 65-75° F. A preventative soil drench for Pythium can be applied
anytime after sticking the cuttings. Maintain a pH between 5.8-6.4 and a media
EC less than 1.5 for optimal growth. Fertilizer at a rate of 50-100 ppm can be
applied once the cuttings begin to root.


To encourage branching, a soft pinch may be done at the time
of transplant. If needed, a secondary pinch may be done to create a fuller
plant once the roots are well established. Continue maintaining a pH of 5.8-6.4
and an EC level between 0.5-1.2. Once new root growth is established, a
constant liquid feed program of nitrate-based fertilizer, such as 14-2-14, is
recommended at a rate of 150-200 ppm nitrogen. To avoid stretching, avoid day
temperatures higher than 75° F. Ideal temperatures are 60-75° F day and
50-55° F night. To help aid in preventing stretching, an application of
B-Nine at 150 ppm is recommended. The Sultans are also very responsive to a
negative DIF.

Scout the crop for thrips, aphids and spider mites, which
are common pests. Common diseases include Botrytis, Pythium, powdery and downy
mildew, rust, Fusarium, impatiens necrotic spot virus and tomato spotted wilt
virus. Treat for any pests or diseases accordingly.

Scheduling of Sultan snapdragons from a rooted cutting to a
4-inch finish is 8-12 weeks, while a 6-inch will finish in 10-14 weeks. Baskets
(10-12 inches) usually finish in 10-14 weeks from a rooted cutting. Sultans
have a garden height of 8-12 inches and a width of 12-16 inches. These
snapdragons are hardy in USDA Zone 11 and perform best in AHS Heat Zones 12-1.

About The Author

Ryan O'Callaghan is account manager at Goldsmith Plants. He can be reached by phone at (800) 540-0158.

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