The charm of snapdragon flowers in gardens is strong but fleeting, as these flowers are cool-weather annuals that quickly fade when summer turns up the heat. However, angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) is a lookalike ready to stand strong in landscapes long after the last snapdragon has wilted. Grown as an annual in northern climates, angelonia is perennial in hardiness zones 9 and above. Clusters of orchid-like flowers bloom in purple, white, or pink 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 hot summer evenings.
|Common Name||Angelonia, summer snapdragon|
|Botanical Name||Angelonia angustifolia|
|Plant Type||Perennial, annual|
|Mature Size||18 in. tall, 18 in. wide|
|Flower Color||White, pink, purple|
|Hardiness Zones||9-11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||North America, Caribbean|
The tough nature and long-blooming habit of angelonia plants make them a staple in summer flowerbeds. The grape scent and nectar-rich flowers attract pollinators to the sunny garden, and the low-care requirements mean your plants will greet you with blooms week after week.
Plant your angelonia in full sun to provide the energy plants need to bloom continuously. Plants that don't get at least six hours of direct sunlight will get leggy and have sparse blooms.
Angelonia plants are tolerant of a wide variety of soils but prefer a 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, so if you have heavy clay soil, consider growing angelonia in raised beds or containers.
Angelonia plants are tough and will keep on blooming through periods of drought. Water when the top of the soil feels dry. Additional moisture is fine if the plants have good drainage.
Temperature and Humidity
Angelonia plants love hot summer weather and high humidity. They thrive in the deep South where sultry conditions dominate. Angelonia plants also fare well in the Southwest with a little extra watering.
Fertilize your angelonia plants monthly, as they are light feeders and too much fertilizer will cause an overgrowth of foliage at the expense of flowers. You can also choose a balanced flower fertilizer with a timed-release mix of a 10-5-10 or 12-12-12 fertilizer at planting time, which will eliminate the need to fertilize again. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions.
There are several varieties of angelonia to consider, including:
- 'Angelface Cascade Blue' has both height and a cascading habit, giving it a dual role in container gardens.
- The 'AngelMist' series acts as a ground cover, reaching only 4 to 10 inches but spreading up to 20 inches.
- Angelonia 'Serena' and 'Serenita' are the only varieties available as seeds.
Angelonia is easy to propagate with stem cuttings.
- Using a sharp knife, take a 3-inch clipping from the tip of an angelonia stem. Choose a cutting with no flowers.
- Strip all but the top pair of leaves from the cutting, as 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 surface.
- Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and insert it into moist potting soil. Keep it moist. When new leaves begin to form, your new plant is ready for the garden.
Growing From Seeds
Angelonia seeds are very fine and difficult to handle, so look for pelleted seed, which has a coating that dissolves after planting. Start angelonia seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost. Press them into the sterile potting soil, but don't cover the seeds, as 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 8 inches apart in the garden.
Potting and Repotting
The constant blooms and tidy, self-cleaning habit of angelonia plants make them ideal for container culture. Take advantage of angelonia's appeal to butterflies and hummingbirds with some pool or patio planters. Large containers, at least 18 inches, won't dry out as fast as smaller containers will.
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 plants have small root systems, and won't need repotting when grown as annuals. 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 gets 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 60s, return the plant outside.
Aphids can be a problem on angelonia plants, 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 flowers, including warm yellow and orange hues you can't find in angelonias. Snapdragons have larger blooms that reach their peak in spring whereas the small 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 all other locations, it is grown as an annual.