What is Angelonia?

Mary McMahon

Angelonia is a genus of flowering plants native to South America. They look very similar to snapdragons and are sometimes grown as an alternative to snapdragons in regions that are too warm for snapdragons to thrive. Commercial cultivars can be found in many nurseries and garden supply stores and it is also possible to trade with other gardeners to access unusual or interesting hybrids. Some hybrids are patented, with the patent holder retaining the propagation rights.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Members of this genus are perennials with an upright, slightly shrubby growth habit. The leaves are long and narrow, and are produced on tall stems. In the summer, very tall spires of colorful white, purple, and bluish flowers are produced. The flowers are extremely showy and may have variegated colors, spots, and other colorful features that make them stand out. The height of Angelonia cultivars makes them popular as background or massed plantings to set off shorter plants.

In United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) zones nine through 11, these plants should be perennial. They bloom for an extended period of time, like full sun, and thrive in hot weather. When other plants in the garden may become droopy or wilty in hot weather, these plants often thrive and will retain their sprightly appearance. Angelonia species also require very minimal maintenance. Gardeners can trim back foliage to shape the plants and keep them compact, and they can benefit from fertilizer in the spring, but they do not require intensive cultivation.

These plants can be grown as annuals in cooler regions. Once the last chance of frost is over in the spring, seedlings can be set out. They should mature rapidly, especially with some fertilizer to help them along, and they will start producing colorful flowers in the early to mid summer. Rows of Angelonia can be excellent for edges and borders or rotating massed plantings in gardens where people like to regularly change the look and feel of the garden with new plants.

Some cultivars can also be grown inside. When growing inside, bright, indirect light is needed along with rich, well-drained soil. Some Angelonia will bloom throughout the winter months if they are grown indoors in a warm, bright household, adding interesting color to the indoor environment during the darker winter months. These plants can also be cultivated in a greenhouse or conservatory, for people with access to such facilities.

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