The charm of snapdragons in a garden is strong but fleeting because they are cool-weather annuals that quickly fade when summer turns up the heat. However, angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) is a lookalike that is ready to stand strong long after the last snapdragon has wilted.
Grown as an annual in cooler climates, angelonia is grown as a perennial in USDA cold hardiness zone 9 and higher. Clusters of tiny, orchid-like flowers bloom in white, pink, mauve, violet, or purple racemes at the tips of strong stems covered in narrow green leaves. The fruity scent of angelonia is a bonus and is especially strong on warm summer evenings.
|Common Name||Angelonia, summer snapdragon|
|Botanical Name||Angelonia angustifolia|
|Plant Type||Perennial in warm climates, grown as an annual in USDA zones 8 and lower|
|Mature Size||18 inches tall, 9 to 12 inches wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Moist, fertile, well-drained|
|Flower Color||White, pink, mauve, violet, purple|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Mexico, West Indies, South America|
The tough nature and long bloom period of angelonia makes it a staple in summer flower beds and containers. Its fragrance and nectar-rich flowers attract pollinators to a sunny garden. These low-maintenance plants do not require deadheading and will greet you with blooms for many weeks.
Plant angelonia in full sun to provide the energy it needs to bloom continuously. Plants that don't receive at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight will grow tall and leggy with fewer blooms.
Angelonia tolerates a wide variety of soils but prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.2. Soil rich in organic matter will reduce watering and fertilizing chores. Plants need good drainage to prevent root rot. If the gardensoil is heavy clay, consider amending the soil to improve its tilth or grow angelonia in a raised bed or container.
Angelonia is quite hardy and will keep blooming through periods of drought. Water when the top few inches of soil feels dry. Supplemental moisture is fine if the plants have good drainage.
Temperature and Humidity
Angelonia thrives in hot summer weather and high humidity. They thrive in the deep South where sultry conditions dominate. Angelonia also fares well in the Southwest with a little extra watering.
Fertilize your angelonia plants monthly because they are light feeders and too much fertilizer will cause an overgrowth of foliage at the expense of flowers. You can feed plants with a light dose of flower fertilizer at planting time, which will eliminate the need to fertilize again. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions.
Here are several varieties of angelonia to consider growing:
- 'Angelface® Cascade Blue' has both height and a cascading habit, giving it a dual role in containers.
- The 'AngelMist®' series acts as a ground cover, reaching only four to ten inches tall but spreading up to 20 inches.
- Angelonia 'Serena' and 'Serenita' are the only varieties available to consumers as seeds.
Unlike many annuals, angelonia does not require deadheading to promote blooming. However, pinching the plants when they're young promotes bushier growth.
Angelonia is easy to propagate via stem cuttings.
- Using a sharp knife, take a three-inch clipping from the tip of an angelonia stem. Choose a cutting without flowers.
- Strip all but the top pair of leaves from the cutting because the stem cannot support the extra leaves without a root system.
- Fill a small pot with soilless potting mix. With a pencil or finger, make a small hole in the soil.
- Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and insert it into moist potting soil.
- Keep the soil moist.
- When new leaves begin to form, it's ready to transplant into your garden.
Growing From Seeds
Angelonia seeds are very fine and difficult to handle, so look for pelleted seed, which makes the seeds larger with a clay coating that dissolves after planting.
Start angelonia seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost. Press them into a sterile potting soil, but don't cover the seeds because light aids germination. Keep seeds moist, and provide bright light and a temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination will occur in one to three weeks. Space seedlings eight inches apart in the garden.
Potting and Repotting
The constant blooms and tidy, self-cleaning habit of angelonia plants make them ideal for growing in containers. Take advantage of angelonia's appeal to butterflies and hummingbirds with some pool or patio planters. Large containers, at least 18 inches in diameter, won't dry out as fast as smaller containers.
Pot up your angelonia plants in late spring when evening temperatures are warm. Use a commercial potting soil, which will provide the right acidity and drainage. Angelonia has a small root system and won't need repotting when grown as an annual. Repot overwintered plants in the spring to refresh the growing medium.
In cooler climates, angelonia is usually grown as an annual but you can also overwinter container plants indoors. When the nighttime temperatures drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, bring it inside. Place it near a window where the plant receives bright, direct light and the room temperature is consistently cool, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist by watering it about once a week. When the spring nighttime temperatures are back up in the lower 60 degree Fahrenheit range, move the plant outdoors.
Aphids can be a problem on angelonia, especially early in the season when plants are in their rapid growth phase. A light misting of insecticidal soap twice a week will knock the pests out before they get a chance to deform your plants.
What is the difference between angelonia and snapdragons?
The two plants aren't in the same genus. Snapdragons are available in a wider range of colors than angelonia, including warm yellow and orange hues you can't find in angelonias. Snapdragons have larger blooms that reach their peak in spring whereas the tiny angelonia blossoms grow best in hot summer weather. For the longest flower show, start with snapdragons, and follow with a planting of angelonias when the summer heats up.
Where is angelonia native?
The plant is native to Mexico and the West Indies.
Is angelonia winter-hardy?
Angelonia is a tender perennial that only survives winters in warm to hot climates. In the cooler USDA gold hardiness zones, it is grown as an annual.