Year of the [Snap]Dragon

As the Chinese New Year approaches, many people of Chinese decent will celebrate and welcome the New Year by displaying and sending flowers.

The Chinese year 4710 begins on Jan. 23, 2012, which is also the year of the dragon.

Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest.

In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

Flower markets in Hong Kong and other parts of China as well as Chinese communities in the U.S. and other countries will be bustling on the days leading up to the actual holiday.

According to SanFranciscoChinatown.com, “Every traditional Chinese household should have live blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Flowers are believed to be symbolic of wealth and high positions in one’s career. A home with a plant that blooms on New Year’s Day signifies a year of prosperity.”

The most popular New Year’s flowers include peach blossoms, peonies, narcissus, orchids, chrysanthemums, and most fitting for this year, snapdragons.

Antirrhinum is a genus of plants commonly known as snapdragons from the flowers’ fancied resemblance to the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth when laterally squeezed (thus the ‘snap’).

The name literally means “like a nose” in Ancient Greek and probably refers to the nose-like capsule in its mature state.

Several species of Antirrhinum are self-incompatible, meaning that a plant cannot be fertilised by its own pollen.

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with your own Snapdragons!

Snapdragons are perennial plants often sold as cold-season annual plants and do best in full or partial sun.

They are available in a range of heights: dwarf (6-8 inches), medium (15-30 inches) and tall (30-48 inches). (Want to grow them yourself? Plant them in a soil that drains well to prevent the roots from rotting.)

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