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Angelonia thrives in Mississippi humidity

A member of the snapdragon family, the Serena Angelonia will grow to 1-foot tall and spread up to 14 inches.
A member of the snapdragon family, the Serena Angelonia will grow to 1-foot tall and spread up to 14 inches. MSU Extension Service

Whenever I see Angelonias in a landscape, I’m reminded of my other favorite flowering annuals for the cool season: snapdragons.

Angelonia, a member of the snapdragon family, thrives in the full sun during the summer heat and humidity. This stamina is a requirement for our Mississippi gardens and landscapes and why I consider it one of the best plants for my hot summer garden.

As such, Angelonias are commonly called summer snapdragons. Since plants with round flowers dominate the garden world, the spiky textures of the Angelonia flower stalks are welcome additions to any summer garden.

More selections are arriving at garden centers all across the state just as summer is settling in.

In 2007, the Serena Angelonia was selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner and has been a garden winner ever since. Flower colors include blue, pink, violet and white. Serena Angelonias grow to 12 inches tall and spread up to 14 inches.

I love the Serena series in my coastal garden, but plant breeders have introduced perhaps an even better choice. Serenita Angelonia has taken the gardening world by storm.

Serenita Pink was an All-America Selection winner in 2014, and the entire series was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2016. Serenitas are more dwarf and compact when compared with Serenas. The colors, in my opinion, are deeper and much more vibrant. Serenitas are drought and heat tolerant while producing a prodigious number of flower stems all season long.

If you’re looking for something a little larger, the Archangel series may be just the choice. Archangel plants grow to be about 14 inches tall with a spread of 12 inches, and they produce large individual flowers and spikes all summer. An added bonus is that the flower stalks of Archangel are perfect for cutting and enjoying indoors.

Once established, Angelonias are drought and heat tolerant. These are great attributes for the hot, summer conditions in Mississippi landscapes, but remember during extended dry periods to apply supplemental irrigation. The effort will help to ensure a healthy plant that continues to produce gorgeous flowers.

Angelonias will thrive when planted in the full sun in fertile, well-drained landscape beds. Adding 3 to 4 inches of good quality mulch will improve even the most compacted clay soil.

Angelonias will not be a good garden plant if the soil is poor, compacted with little air and space. This is the perfect situation for growing in containers, and any of the Angelonia selections will be outstanding.

Maintaining a consistent supply of fertilizer is required for the optimum performance and flowering. Fertilize with a complete controlled-release garden fertilizer at planting.

Supplemental water-soluble fertilizer applied monthly will keep Angelonias going strong and give your garden and landscape consistent color all summer.

Gary Bachman is a professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.

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