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Today is July 12, 2020

Southern Gardening

Mississippi Spring and Summer Gardens

By Dr. Gary Bachman

Mississippi Spring and Summer Gardens

In a garden world dominated by plants with round flowers, Angelonia's spiky flower stalks are welcome additions to any summer garden. Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman.

March 1 was the meteorological first day of spring, and I found my thoughts wandering to those summer annuals I love so well. One of my cool-season favorites doesn’t last long past the last days of spring, but I know I have summer replacement.

Angelonia is a close relative of snapdragon that blooms all summer and into the fall. It is hard to believe that a plant in the snapdragon family relishes our summer heat and humidity, but this one does. Angelonia is a fantastic, easy-care annual that doesn’t need deadheading, which is always a positive in my garden choices.

Angelonias are commonly called summer snapdragons. Since the garden world is dominated by plants with round flowers, the spiky texture of the Angelonia flower stalks are welcome additions to any summer garden. Angelonia has been selected as a Mississippi Medallion winner on a couple of occasions. Serena Angelonia was first selected to receive this prestigious Medallion recognition in 2007. These plants have received outstanding ratings all across the country and were impressive in our trials as well.

Serena Angelonias come in four colors and reach only 10 to 12 inches tall, but they spread 12 to 14 inches wide. Flower colors include blue, pink, violet and white.

I have loved having the Serena series in my coastal garden but leave it to the plant breeders to introduce maybe an even better choice, Serenita Angelonia.

Serenita is a more dwarf and compact selection than Serena. I think the colors are deeper and much more vibrant. Serenita is drought and heat tolerant while producing a prodigious number of flower stems all season long.

Serenita Pink was named an All-America Selection winner in 2014, and the entire series was chosen as Mississippi Medallion winners in 2016.

Always plant Angelonia in well-drained garden soils; never plant in any soils resembling the tight clay, cement-like soils commonly found across Mississippi. These soils are compacted with little air space porosity.

If your landscape soils are poor, this is the perfect situation for using containers. Any of the Angelonia selections will be outstanding when grown in containers. Be sure to place them in full sun, as this will ensure the very best flowering performance.

Once established in either landscape beds or containers, Angelonia selections have remarkable drought tolerance. This is particularly true in organic-rich beds where a layer of mulch has been added to retain moisture.

Provide supplemental irrigation to your Angelonias during prolonged dry spells. I always use one of the various types of trickle or drip irrigation, as I find they perform best.

Look for Angelonia selections this spring at your garden center. You will love them in your landscape.


Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member.

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