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On Gardening: The Year of the Angelonia: Let the celebration commence

Norman Winter, Tribune News Service on

Published in Gardening News

The National Garden Bureau has designated 2024 as the "Year of the Angelonia" and I am in full celebration mode. As I was preparing for my contribution to the celebration, I was however sent into taxonomic trauma.

For the last 26 years of deep love for the angelonia, or summer snapdragon, I have told everyone via newspaper, radio and TV that they were in the Scrophulariaceae family. Since most gardeners don’t like those words, I modified or simplified the snapdragon family. Somebody however, has tinkered with green industry happiness and moved angelonia to the Plantaginaceae or plantain family.

I immediately reached out to my friend Dr. Allen Ownings, horticulture professor emeritus with the LSU AgCenter. I said did you know this, or better yet, did you do it? He said, as I expected, that the taxonomist group had done it. This reminded me that someone once said taxonomists have to eat too!

I know what you are thinking, does this mean the angelonia or summer snapdragon is now related to the hosta or plantain lily? The answer is no, as the hosta or plantain lily is in the Asparagaceae or Asparagus family. You see where I am going with this.

So, then you are suspecting the angelonia or summer snapdragon who is in the plantain family must be related to plantain bananas. That would also be no, as bananas are in the Musaceae or banana family. At this point I would warn bananas to not get too comfortable.

Supposedly DNA fingerprinting led to this family annulment and there were a lot more that fell prey: Penstemon, Linaria, Digitalis, Snapdragon, Veronica and no doubt more that mere mortals wouldn’t understand. I have to add though, somehow Nemesia and Diascia stayed in the Scrophulariaceae or Figwort family.

But back to our celebration the Year of the Angelonia or Summer Snapdragon. Twenty-six years ago was the first time I wrote about Angelonia. Never did a new plant cause such excitement. This gave the South a summer plant that bloomed all summer and looked like a snapdragon or foxglove. It was so good that the University of Florida recognized Hilo Princess as the Plant of the Year.

Now every company has their own series. Proven Winners has the Angelface series with three distinct types, Standard, Super and Cascade. They are tough as nails and will bloom all summer. The standard reaches 18 to 30 inches tall with an 18-inch spread. The super is indeed that, with the ability to reach 30 to 40 inches tall and a spread up to 16 inches. The cascade group can reach 8 to 14 inches in height with a spread of up to 30 inches.

 

The Angelface series has won just under 100 awards and offers gardeners the best for the landscape, or mixed containers where they can be used as the thriller, spiller or filler. The cascade group provides hanging basket design options that will take your visitors' breath away.

Angelface angelonias by virtue of their Mexico and West Indies native habitat, mean they are rock solid in our US summers. They are drought tolerant, but remember they do come from an area of high rainfall. They simply ask not to be grown in a moisture-laden bog or to dry out to a wilting point. Feed every two weeks with a water-soluble mixed fertilizer. They require no pruning or deadheading as you transition through the gardening season.

If Top Performer and Perfect Score awards are what you are looking for, then put Angelface at the top of your list for the summer. You too can celebrate The Year of the Angelonia.

____

(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)


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