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David Trinklein
University of Missouri
Plant Science & Technology
(573) 882-9631

Angelonia: Sun-loving Garden Neophyte

David Trinklein
University of Missouri
(573) 882-9631

April 22,2024

minute read

white, pink and purple colored flowers in a wooden box

(Credit: National Garden Bureau)

In the world of ornamental flowering annuals, there are relatively few newcomers in the marketplace. Angelonia, sometimes referred to as "summer snapdragon" is an exception to that rule. Nearly unheard of in the 20th century, its ability to thrive in sunny, hot weather and arid locations makes it an excellent choice for most summer gardens. Because of its many fine attributes, the National Garden Bureau has chosen to promote Angelonia by designating it as its flowering annual for 2024.

Angelonia is a genus in the Plantaginaceae (plantain) plant family that includes about 30 species. The name Angelonia comes from the Latin word Angelos which means angel. Most are native to regions from Mexico to Argentina. Angelonia angustifolia is the most widely grown Angelonia species and has upright, somewhat bushy growth habit. Its flower is a spike that bears axillary florets that (somewhat) resemble a tiny orchid. Their shape aids in pollination through hairs in the inner corolla that help bees forage for pollen. Flower colors include white, purple, light pink, dark reds, bicolor flowers, and more. Plants typically grow 12 to18 inches tall.

hand holding puple flower head

Angelonia's compound inflorescence is a spike, bearing individual florets that somewhat resemble tiny orchids. (Credit: National Garden Bureau)

Three additional species of note include Angelonia crassifolia, Angelonia integerrima, and Angelonia campestris. All three are more shrub-like in terms of growth habit and look. Native to Brazil and first classified by botanists in the early 1800s, they are of minor importance to gardeners.

The first Angelonia angustifolia cultivars introduced to the gardening public were vegetatively propagated. The following represents some of the more popular series available to the gardening public.

Alonia™ – With an upright, mounded habit, this series is early to bloom and features extra-large flowers. There are 14 colors and bicolors in the series all of which are great for landscapes and containers.

Archangel™ – This series thrives in extreme heat and humidity. It bears extra-large size blooms on well-branched plants that resist breakage and tangling. There are 10 colors in this series, including a new Ruby Sangria with dark-red hues.

AngelDance™ – Deriving its name from its taller, flexible stems that dance in the wind, this series creates an attractive cottage garden look. The appearance is reminiscent of a foxglove or larkspur flower. Blooms are bicolored in fuchsia and violet.

Angelface® – This series is available in three types: Standard, Super, and Cascade. The difference between them is the shape of the plant or its habit. Like all Angelonia, they bloom all season without removing the spent blossoms.

hand holding puple flower head

Like most Angelonias, the Angelface® series are excellent when used as cut flowers. (Credit: Proven Winners)

AngelMist® – Their low-growing and spreading growth habit makes members of this series great for groundcover in garden beds or spilling out of hanging baskets or patio containers. Five colors are available, including a bicolor of pink-and-purple named Berry Sparkler.

Aria and Aria Alta – The Aria series has large flower spikes on upright plants that grow up to 16 inches tall whereas the Aria Alta types are slightly larger, growing up to 24 inches tall. Aria Alta comes in purple, pink, and raspberry, while the Arias come in white, blue, pink bicolor, purple, and soft pink.

Carita™ – This series comes in purple, raspberry, and white on plants with a spreading, upright growth habit. It withstands hot temperatures and tolerates drought, making it an ideal choice for warm-season landscape plantings and hanging baskets.

Sungelonia® – This is an elegant and upright thriller that is perfect for patio containers and landscapes. It's notable for its compactness, uniformity, and excellent branching habit. Plants grow up to 15 inches tall and are available in three colors: blue, deep pink, and white.

Currently, there are two Angelonia angustifolia series that are propagated from seeds. This allows gardeners the latitude of starting and growing their own plants.

Serena® – Gardeners looking for water-wise, heat-loving plants will find this series an excellent choice. Plants grow up to 50 percent large in the southeast, and similar southern climates. It is available in four colors: white, rose, blue and purple.

purple flowers on rock retaining wall with yellow flowers in background

The Serena® series was the first Angelonia that could be propagated from seeds. (Credit: National Garden Bureau)

Serenita™ – This series represents an excellent solution where shorter and more manageable Angelonia are needed. It has a more naturally compact habit and is available in seven colors: white, lavender, pink (an AAS Winner), rose, raspberry, sky blue, and purple.

In the garden, Angelonia are considered to be low maintenance plants. As previously mentioned, plants perform best in warmer temperatures and growth slows when the temperature falls below 64°F. As a drought-tolerant plant, once established Angelonia will thrive in soil that is not saturated with moisture. No pruning or deadheading is required and, when grown under proper conditions, plants are nearly free of pests.

Angelonia is a versatile garden flower that can be used in several different ways. For attractive hanging baskets, plant spreading types using three plants per 10-to-12-inch basket. You can use a single color or mix colors in the basket. Either way will result in a floriferous and colorful hanging basket for the garden.

flower basket on stand with white petals

Angelonia is an excellent selection for containers and also thrive as border plants. (Credit: National Garden Bureau)

In combination containers, Angelonia can be used as a thriller, a filler, or a spiller plant, depending on container size. Combining Angelonia with other sun-loving plants in a larger container is a good way to make use of this versatile species.

As a landscape plant, growing Angelonia in beds or borders makes gardening easy. The plants are well-behaved in the garden and do not compete with neighboring plants. Their blooms also last a long time, providing season-long color.

Credit: Adapted from an article by the National Garden Bureau.

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REVISED: April 22, 2024