Our long hot summers can be brutal on both people and plants.
I am often asked what type of flowering bedding plant is suitable for our area at this time of year? To find a such a plant that can tolerate and even enjoy these conditions is difficult at best. The solution — the “summer snapdragon,” better known as angelonia, is here.
I wrote about this plant late last summer, but thought that I needed to remind gardeners that Angelonia is a great summer flower that can go into your garden right now.
Native to Mexico and the West Indies, angelonia is a member of the figwort family. The foliage of the Angelonia is glossy green to a grey-green in color and covered in minute hairs. This annual/perennial grows from one to three feet tall and produces almost 1-inch wide white, blue and white, and pink snapdragon-like flowers arranged on narrow, 8-inch spikes. While grown as an annual, this plant can sometimes winter over as a perennial in our hardiness zone.
Angelonia is a real warm-weather, drought-tolerant plant that does well in the landscape on the edge of a border, in containers, and can even be used as a cut flower. Plant angelonia in a full sun, well-drained, moderately moist to dry location, 12 to 16 inches apart in beds. Expect at least six weeks of bloom in a typical season.
One method to extend the bloom and rejuvenate plant vigor is to actually shear plants back 50% at mid-season which will initiate a rebloom in about two to three weeks.
There are a number of angelonia cultivars available at garden centers. Angelface blue is a cultivar that has proved itself worthy as a Florida bedding plant. Another angelonia cultivar, “Hilo princess,” was even named a 1998 Plant of the Year by the Florida Nursery Growers & Landscape Association.
One last good set of attributes in praise of Angelonia is that it is not an invasive plant as per the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas, and it is also well-known as a Florida-Friendly Landscaping approved plant – good stamps of approval to carry.
The plant itself also has a very distinctive, pleasant smell. When crushed, the leaves smell just like grape soda or apples to some people.
Flowering plants that can take our hot, humid weather are to be cherished. Try some angelonia — available in most garden centers — and you will be impressed.
For more information on all types of summer flowering plants for your garden suitable for our area, you can also call the Master Gardener Volunteer Helpdesk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. at 941-764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.