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Angelonias Continue To Rate High As New Plants
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
The 30-inch tall, spiky blue flowers of the angelonia continue to be the most impressive of recent plant introductions. In a world where round flowers seem to dominate, the texture from the plant is a joy to behold. The Florida Plant of the Year last year was a variety called Hilo Princess, and it performs well here too!
They have been readily available this year. One thing that surprises me is that the price on angelonias is really a good value. Plant in well-drained, well-prepared beds rich in organic matter. Choose a site in full sun for best flowering. It is hard to believe that a plant in the snapdragon family relishes our summer heat and humidity. Hybridizers, if you are reading this article, please bring us more plants like this one.
Once established in the bed, it seems to have remarkable drought tolerance. This is particularly true in organic-rich beds where a layer of mulch has been added. Pay attention though. If we should go through a really prolonged dry spell, supplemental irrigation would be needed. Please do not stick this wonderful plant in tight, cement-like soil.
Light, monthly applications of a 2-1-2-ratio fertilizer, such as a 10-5-10 with minor nutrients, are all that is needed to keep this plant blooming. The bloom period is really long, and when it does want to cycle, it responds well to trimming back with a pair of pruning shears.
The Angelonia will be treated as an annual most years, except in South Mississippi. However, they have come back the past two years at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. They really came back vigorously this year. The poorer the drainage, the less likely they will return.
When angelonia blooms, it makes you think it would be at home in a cottage-like garden. It is not as tall as larkspurs, but it gives a sense of belonging in that style garden. Hilo Princess angelonia looks good with New Gold lantana or planted in drifts adjacent to Black-Eyed Susans.
There are white varieties and pink ones that look awesome planted in front of tall purple coneflowers. One of the most vigorous angelonias is called Tiger Princess and has flowers that are a bluish-purple with a white stripe. This variety was made to be planted with Shasta daisies or white zinnias.
Plant gurus who like to propagate by cuttings will be overjoyed to know that the angelonia roots with ease. Simply stick a 6-inch cutting in moist potting soil, and you are just about guaranteed success.
Angelonias are not even close to having reached market potential. I had the opportunity to tour the California trials and one of the most exciting groups of plants that will be coming out next year is called Angelmist. Ball Flora Plant will distribute Angelmist angelonias, and they will be bringing us new colors in deep plum, richer pinks and purples and a better white. These have also been virus indexed or in other words virus free.
Look for angelonias now and particularly next year when the new selections make their debut. I feel confident you will fall in love with this plant like I have.