warm weather annuals-angelonia

December 2, 2020

Do you have a hot, sunny spot in need of attention? Angelonia brings you spires of color, white, pink, blues, lavenders or mauve, and bi-color. The plant grows about 12″-18″ in height. New varieties are continuing to be made available and some now reach 3′.The flower blooms continuously and does not require deadheading. The flowers resemble that of a snapdragon, and you will see them referred to as summer snapdragons.

If you don’t know the Angelonia, it is because it is relatively new to us, having only been used since the late 1990’s. It is being widely adopted because it is a tough, easy-care plant for hot and humid environments when our other favorites start to fail.

What Are They?

It is Angelonia augustifolia, and while it is used as a warm-weather annual in temperate climates it is actually a herbaceous perennial and grows year-round in zones 9-11. The flowers grow close together on a tall stem and with two lips do resemble small snapdragons.

How They Got To Us

Angelonia is native to Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies. It became adopted by gardeners in Florida and other warm places. By the late 1990’s growers created new varieties which improved color and shape.

Angelonia vs Snapdragons

Both of the plants are in different genera of the same family Plantaginaceae. The Snapdragon is Antirrhimum majus, and is native to Italy and Spain and has been grown by gardeners for centuries. The flower of the Snapdragon is larger and it grows and blooms successfully in spring (In South Florida it blooms for us all winter.) The name comes from the Greek meaning “snout-like”. The only thing you might not like about the Angelonia is that the dragon snout flower is fused. You can’t play a realistic game of ” Snap” with it!

Angelonia has an attractive, fruity scent in the garden. We like them on a covered porch, added to the scent of gardenia and jasmine it provides another element of pleasure.

The Two Real Differences

The size range of Snapdragons is a major difference. They can be from 4″ to 4′ tall, a much larger size range than Angelonia. Here is the second difference. As the weather heats up, the snapdragon begins to droop. The Angelonia is useful to us in a very similar way but is a steady bloomer throughout the summer. They are both upright, very attractive and offer color choices. One gives a wide range of sizes in spring and early summer. The second keeps the colors going to the end of summer.

How You Can Use Them

Use Angelonia to fill a variety of needs in the garden. If the color, shape, and form appeal to you here are some ways to use them.

  • Bedding plants
  • Make a border
  • Massed for color
  • Containers, they can be the thriller or the filler (there are also a few varieties which trail)
  • Window boxes
  • Hanging baskets
  • A cut flower which lasts and retains its scent in the house

Popular Varieties

These Are Important Categories Each With Unique Features

VarietyFeaturesSome Colors
ArchangelThe biggest blooms, Accepts extremes of heat and humidityArchangel Dark Purple, Purple Archangel, has white center, Archangel Cherry,
SerenaHas a long bloom period, and hardy in extreme heat. Spreading habitmauve, purple, pink, white
AngelmistLow growing, large flower, spreading, hardy in heat. You can use this as a groundcover, and in front of other medium-sized plantsBright colors, blue, red, purple, white
SerenitaProlific, comes in “impressionistic” colors, designed to be low labor, less requirement to pinchvarious colors and bi-colors
AngelfaceAn upright variety with a heavy blooming habit.

When and How To Use Them

In Zone 9-11 these are perennial plants. They should bloom all year. In colder climates, these are a dependable source of warm-weather color. Anywhere, they have a remarkable ability to live in heat, sun or humidity.

How To Plant and Care For Them

How To Plant

Plant them in fertile, well-drained soil. Add organic material to the soil. Select a sunny spot with plenty of airflow. Set them out 2-3 weeks after the date of the historic last frost in your area. Plant them in full sun, to light shade. The plants should be 12″ apart in cool climates and 18″-24″ in warm climates where the plants have time to spread.

Dig the planting hole 2 times the width of the pot and as deep. Plant so that the plant is a the top of the soil or slightly above for better drainage. Put time-release fertilizer below the plant. Read the instructions for quantity. Saturate the plants after planting. Water them two to three times weekly for two to three weeks.

Water established Angelonia plants when the first inch of soil is dry.

Fertilize the Plants monthly. Fertile, organic-rich soil reduces the need for added fertilizer.

Pinching And Trimming

When the young plants are 6″ tall pinch and remove the tips of the leading stems. This will encourage branching for a fuller stem. If the plants begin to sprawl in midseason, cut them back to about half of their height. They will grow again with new vigor.

Pests And Diseases

Our experience with these plants is that they are disease resistant. Powdery Mildew is a risk in wet and humid climates. Avoid watering from above if possible. There are several fungicides on the market to treat the problem. Aphids are also attracted to Angelonia. Remove any damaged leaves if you see them.

Summary,

Angelonia is an opportunity to plant something new and different but tried and without surprises. Since the late ’90’s these plants have been popular and award winners. Being well received, growers have produced many cultivars.

Angelonia are outstanding container plants either alone or combined with other plants.

Companion Plants For Angelonia

Zinnia, salvia, marigold, begonia, sun coleus, geranium, dusty miller, sunflower, vinca, celosia, and penta are ideas to consider in any location.

If using Angelonia in containers in bright sun consider sun-loving trailing plants. Calibrachoa or moss rose are very sun resistant choices.

Other trailing ideas include the small blue-gray leaves of licorice plant, the purple, ridged leaves of Joseph’s coat, sweet alyssum or sweet potato vine.