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Plant tough Angelonia for summer-long color

If you’re one of the many gardeners who consider Angelonia an ideal plant for the hot summer garden, I would have to agree with you.

Angelonia is a member of the snapdragon family, and it is actually called summer snapdragon. Few, if any, insects or diseases bother the Angelonia in the garden or landscape. Because it thrives in the full sun during the heat and humidity of summer, it makes a wonderful addition to our Mississippi gardens and landscapes.

Angelonias begin flowering shortly after planting in late spring. With a little deadheading, they continue to bloom profusely until frost in the fall. The garden world is dominated by plants with round flowers, making the spiky texture of the Angelonia flower stalks welcome additions to any summer garden.

In the coastal counties, Angelonia may overwinter outdoors. After this year’s mild winter, I saw Angelonia that overwintered north of Jackson. Obviously this is not the norm. You should consider your Angelonia a flowering annual.

In 2007, the Serena Angelonia was selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner. Flower colors include blues, pinks, violets and white. Serena Angelonia grows to 12 inches tall and spreads up to 14 inches wide.

Pair Serena white Angelonia with the 2011 Mississippi Medallion winner Sunpatiens for a great full sun combination. The yellows and orange yellows of lantana and Profusion zinnia also make great combination partners.

Another variety of Angelonia that is certainly worthy of a place in our Mississippi gardens is the Angel Mists. This series has plants that are compact and low-growing with colors of white, pink and purple. Best of all, these plants are free flowering, making them exceptional choices for the landscape.

I really like using Angel Mist plants in containers or hanging baskets and letting the stems sprawl and scramble over the container edge.

Once established, Angelonia is drought- and heat-tolerant. These are great attributes for the hot summer conditions in Mississippi landscapes. During extended droughty periods, remember to supply supplemental irrigation. This will help ensure healthy plants that continue to produce gorgeous flowers.

Angelonias will thrive when planted in the full sun in fertile, well-drained landscape beds. Add 3 to 4 inches of good-quality mulch to improve even the most compacted clay soil. Angelonia will not be a good garden plant if the soil is poor and compacted, leaving little air space.

Maintain a consistent supply of fertilizer for optimum performance and flowering. Fertilize with a complete, controlled-release garden fertilizer at planting. After planting, monthly applications of water-soluble fertilizer will keep Angelonia going strong all summer.

Wherever you need summer color in your home landscape, plant Angelonia. These beauties will perform the entire summer season and beyond.

Editor’s note: Dr. Gary Bachman is an associate Extension research professor of horticulture at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. Locate Southern Gardening columns and television and radio programs on the Internet at http://msucares.com/news/.