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Angelonia named super plant

Published 12:00am Sunday, April 17, 2011

An outstanding angelonia has been named a spring 2011 Louisiana Super Plant selection. Serena series angelonia is a long-blooming summer bedding plant with a tough constitution and a long blooming season.

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 3 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 2-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 2- 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.

Dan Gill is a LSU AgCenter Horticulturist.