Why Dead Snapdragon Flowers Would Make A Perfect Halloween Decoration

Do you want some eco-friendly but totally spooky Halloween decorations for your yard? Look no further than snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus). Both the flower's common and scientific names come from the fact that the buds look like a dragon's snout that snaps open and shut when bumblebees press on it in search of pollen, according to The Spruce. (Antirrhinum majus means "like a snout" in Latin). But it turns out that the flowers retain this snout-like look even in death, only without the color of their brilliant petals. Instead, their seedpods look like tiny skulls, according to Gardening Know How.

However, the de-petaled pods don't look like the bones of a mystical creature anymore. Instead, they bear an eerie resemblance to a human skull with two eye sockets, a triangular indent where the nose would be, and a gaping mouth, according to Metro. To make them even creepier, you can press into the pod with your fingertips to make the skull mouth open and close. 

Spooky stories

There are a lot of ancient legends to go along with the snapdragon seedpod's spooky look. However, despite their disturbing appearance, the seedpods were generally considered a good thing to have around by our ancestors. One myth said that women could appear younger and more beautiful if they ate them, according to Gardening Know How. People who hid snapdragons on their bodies would be able to charm interlocutors, according to The Garden Magazine. Another folk belief was that the pods would ward off curses, witchcraft, and other forms of supernatural meddling if hidden around the home, according to Gardening Know How. This makes them an ideal Halloween accessory because you can protect yourself while frightening your neighbors. 

During Victorian times, their reputation was a little more dubious. Snapdragons represented deceit in the era's flower language, but also graciousness, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. People in the Victorian era would study flower meanings and design bouquets to convey messages. If someone wanted to apologize without actually having to say, "I'm sorry," they would give the wronged party an arrangement of snapdragons and another flower that symbolized honesty, such as a hyacinth, according to florist website Lovingly

How to grow snapdragons

If you want to grow snapdragons in your yard, there are a few simple steps to follow. First, plant them in a sunny spot in soil that drains well, advises Gardeners' World. it's easier to either buy starter seedlings from a nursery or keep the freshly-planted seeds indoors for eight to 10 weeks before the last time the ground freezers, according to HGTV. The reason for this is twofold. Snapdragons usually bloom two to three months after they are planted, according to The Spruce. However, they tend to wilt once daytime temperatures pass 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so starting them too late won't give them much time to bloom depending on where you live.

That said, because they like cooler weather, it's possible to get your snapdragons to revive in the fall with constant watering. "If the flowers bloom is timed right, you can co-ordinate the end of the flower bloom to coincide with Halloween," Thomas Nelson wrote for The Garden Magazine. "Your garden will definitely be the most terrifying, naturally-occurring decor." 

You can then start the cycle all over again by harvesting the seeds, Gardening Know How suggests. First, wait until you hear them rattling around when the pods blow in the wind, a sign that the pods are dry enough. Then, squeeze the pods off the plant, shake the little skulls until the seeds fall into your hand, and store them somewhere dark and cool until the spring.