Angelonias made their appearance on the gardening scene in the late 1990s. The first varieties available, such as the 1998 Florida Plant of the Year Hilo Princess, were beautiful, but had some problems. Growing up to three feet tall, these plants were rather leggy and tended to sprawl.
Breeders and plant development companies, however, saw the great potential in this fine plant. They got to work expanding the color range and producing types that are stockier, shorter and heavy-flowering.
Several improved strains are available these days. At around two feet tall, Angelface by Proven Winners is more upright and compact with a heavier blooming habit than older types.
AngelMist varieties produce larger flowers on compact plants around two feet tall, as well as cascading types. Varieties in the Carita series are generally somewhat taller than other strains. All of these angelonias are vegetatively propagated by cuttings.
The newest angelonia series and Louisiana Super Plant selection, Serena, is seed propagated. This is an exciting development. Seed-grown strains can be propagated more rapidly, more easily and less expensively.
Serena series angelonia is an exceptional summer bedding plant that can be relied upon for dependable garden performance through the hottest summer weather.
The four soft colors in the Serena series blend together beautifully – Serena Purple, Serena Lavender, Serena Lavender Pink and Serena White.
Plants are compact, growing 12 to 14 inches tall and wide. This makes them among the most compact of the different types of angelonias.
Masses of flower spikes cover the plants from late spring to frost.
Of all of the angelonia varieties and series that have been trialed at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research station, Serena angelonias have consistently been the most impressive. Their performance through the summer has been so good that I can recommend them for your garden without hesitation.
Angelonias will grow best in well-prepared beds amended with organic matter and a light fertilizer application, just as you would do for other bedding plants. Because they thrive in heat, it is best to wait until mid-April to plant them, but you can add them to your gardens any time during the summer.
Full to part sun (six to eight hours of direct sun daily) will produce stocky plants with plenty of flower spikes. Avoid areas that are shady.
Because angelonias with a variety of heights and growth habits are available these days, check the label of the plants for height when you make your selections. Taller varieties are excellent for the back of flowerbeds while shorter and cascading types are suitable for planting toward the front of the bed. All angelonias are outstanding container plants, either alone or combined with other plants. And nicely designed, mixed plantings in containers are all the rage these days.
Flower production continues all summer until the first frost. Some angelonia types tend to cycle in and out of bloom, but new flushes of flower spikes reliably occur through the summer. Serena angelonias tend to stay in bloom more consistently than some of the others.
If plants temporarily stop blooming, it’s an excellent opportunity to prune them back if needed. As with many tender perennials grown as annuals, it will generally be a good idea prune early-planted angelonias back in August after several months of growth. This will make the plants shorter, fuller and more attractive as they continue to bloom into November.
At that time, the plants would generally be removed to make room for planting cool-season flowers. However, these plants are perennials that may survive mild winters in south Louisiana and grow and bloom another year.
If you mulch the bases with several inches of pine straw and temperatures don’t go below the mid- to low 20s, they should make it. Or you can lift the plants out of the ground, pot them and keep them protected during winter for planting next year.
Water angelonias two or three times a week the first few weeks after planting until the plants get established. Once they’re established, however, angelonias are somewhat drought-tolerant and hang tough during hot, dry weather. They have no major insect or disease problems. Honestly, what more could you ask for?
Serena and other types of angelonias are readily available at area nurseries and may be planted now. Look for the Louisiana Super Plants logo signs at your local nurseries right by the Serena angelonias.
When you purchase a Louisiana Super Plant selection, you know you are choosing a great plant for your landscape with a proven track record in Louisiana.
Other selections for this spring include Frostproof gardenia, Butterfly series pentas and Shoal Creek vitex.
For more information, contact Dr. Chris Robichaux, county agent/area horticulturist, St. Martin/Iberia Parishes, at 332-2181 or 369-4440.