Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Gardening 101: Angelonia

Search

Gardening 101: Angelonia

August 3, 2017

Angelonia, Angelonia angustifolia; “Summer Snapdragon”

For those of us who labor endlessly in our gardens, the idea of the backyard as a place of repose can seem like a lunatic’s delusion. If we do manage to take a break from the endless weeding and pruning to mop our sweaty brows and view our handy work, we often end up ignoring the beauty and focusing only on the chores that remain. Far too often for the caretaker, the garden is less a restful haven than a three-dimensional to-do list. However, help is on the way.  Hybridizers, those patient horticulture worker bees, are laboring in their greenhouses to create plants that require less care while providing more satisfying results.

A perfect example of this phenomenon is Angelonia.  Until sometime in the 1990s this was a rather drab little flower that was mainly grown in areas of the south which shared a similar climate with this plant’s native habitats in Mexico and the West Indies. Drab no more, thanks to a plethora of gorgeous cultivars, Angelonia has become a landscapers’ darling and an overworked gardener’s dream come true.  Once hard to find at the garden center, this plant is now widely available in a selection of vibrant colors from white to blue to purple to mauve and, recently, even a pinkish red.

Angelonia angustifolia, spotted at a plant nursery on Maui. Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr.
Above: Angelonia angustifolia, spotted at a plant nursery on Maui. Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr.

Ellen Reznick, owner of the Manhattan design and maintenance firm Lush Life Gardening, is an enthusiastic fan of Angelonia and reports it is a vigorous and continuous full season bloomer, even thriving in the harsh conditions of high winds and withering sun on her clients’ terraces and roofs.  As for maintenance, Reznick confirms that this plant does not need deadheading or staking even though, she says, it can grow quite tall.

Angelonia angustifolia by Carl Lewis via Flickr.
Above: Angelonia angustifolia by Carl Lewis via Flickr.

Cheat Sheet

  • Angelonia looks delicate with its small orchid-shaped flowers on upright spikes, but it can tolerate blistering heat with or without high humidity.
  • Most cultivars are two feet tall or less and quite bushy, which makes them perfect  to put beside walkways and in swaths along the front edges of borders.
  • Cut Angelonia and bring it indoors for a long-lasting flower display.
  • This plant thrives in containers and window boxes and grows full enough to use alone, although it combines well with other colorful annuals.
Angelonia angustifolia at Longwood Gardens.
Above: Angelonia angustifolia at Longwood Gardens.

Ellen Reznick says she likes to use Angelonia in planters with calibrachoa, creeping jenny, and bocopa. This works especially well with Archangel Purple, one of her favorite varieties, with its rich purple petals set off dramatically by dainty white centers. For a client who wanted a display of pink annuals, Reznick mixed pink Angelonia with pink pentas and rosebud impatiens.  Because the range of cultivars is so extensive, the possible combinations are really endless.

Keep It Alive

  • For most of us, Angelonia is an annual that will succumb to frost.  But for gardeners in USDA zones 9 to 11 it can survive all year round especially if it is dressed with a layer of organic mulch.
  • 6 to 8 hours of direct sun is required for maximum flowering.
  • These annuals will tolerate almost any soil, including clay, but they prefer loose soil amended with organic matter.
  • Water Angelonia two or three times a week until it develops a strong root system. At that point it will become fairly drought tolerant and require watering only when the soil has dried out.

A packet of \10 Blue Serena Angelonia seeds is \$4.95 from Park Seed.
Above: A packet of 10 Blue Serena Angelonia seeds is $4.95 from Park Seed.
Until recently, Angelonias tended to be rather expensive because they could only be propagated vegetatively through cuttings.  However, just a few years ago, the Serena series, which is the first type of commercially available Angelonia capable of being grown from seed, was introduced. Serenas, as well as the somewhat smaller Seneritas, are a boon to the home gardener because they can either be started from seed or purchased as plugs for affordable multiple plantings.

Product summary  

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0