By Dan Gill
LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
The LSU AgCenter has named Serenita Raspberry angelonia a Louisiana Super Plants selection for spring 2016. Angelonias are among the best summer bedding plants for our flower gardens and containers. Although they are still relatively new to the garden scene, angelonias are steadily gaining in popularity.
Angelonia Serenita Raspberry
Among the compact-growing angelonias, the Serena series has set the standard for excellence. This series was named a Louisiana Super Plant selection in spring of 2011. Plants are compact, growing 16 to 20 inches tall and 14 inches wide. Masses of flower spikes cover the plants from late spring to frost.
The Serenita angelonias were bred to be even more compact – reaching about 12 to 14 inches tall – and still retain the outstanding garden performance of the Serena angelonias. This makes them useful for creating a low carpet of color in the front of flower beds, and they fit nicely when planted into mixed containers. They come in a variety of colors, including pink (Serenita Pink is an All-America Selection winner), purple, sky blue, lavender-pink, white and raspberry.
In trials at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station, all of the Serenita angelonia colors performed very well, but Serenita Raspberry was especially outstanding. The color of the flower is unique among the angelonias. It is an intense, rich pink with lavender undertones and dark spots in the center of the flower. The color is sophisticated and distinctive.
Flower spikes appear in abundance through the summer. The flowers are slightly larger than the other cultivars in the series. This, along with the unusual color, neat growth and abundant blooms, led to the selection of Serenita Raspberry angelonia as a Louisiana Super Plant.
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 late April to plant them, but you can add them to your gardens anytime 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 mostly shady.
Because heights and growth habits vary among the different angelonias available at nurseries these days, check plant labels for height when you make your selections. Taller cultivars are excellent for the back of flower beds while spreading and short types, such as Serenita Raspberry, are suitable for planting toward the front of the bed. All angelonias are outstanding container plants, either alone or combined with other plants.
Flower production continues all summer until the first frost. Some types of angelonias tend to cycle in and out of bloom, but new flushes of flower spikes reliably occur through the summer. If plants do temporarily stop blooming, it’s an excellent opportunity to prune them back, if needed, and fertilize.
As we do with many tender perennials grown as annuals, it will generally be a good idea to prune early-planted angelonias in August after several months of growth. Cut them back one-third to one-half their height and fertilize. This will make the plants shorter, fuller and more attractive as they continue to bloom into November and early December.
At that time, the plants would generally be removed to make room for planting cool-season flowers. However, these plants are perennials that have a good chance of surviving a mild winter and growing and blooming another year. Generally, if you mulch them with several inches of pine straw and temperatures don’t go below the mid-to-low 20s, they should make it.
After planting Serenita Raspberry and other angelonias, you may need to water two or three times a week while the plants get established if the weather is dry. However, once established, angelonias are somewhat drought tolerant and hang tough during hot, dry weather. They have no major insect or disease problems in our area.
Look for Serenita Raspberry and other angelonias where bedding plants are sold. You won’t be disappointed.
Louisiana Super Plants
The Louisiana Super Plants program is an educational and marketing campaign of the LSU AgCenter that highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well in Louisiana landscapes. New selections are announced and promoted each year in spring and fall.
Other Louisiana Super Plant selections that may be planted now include: full sun (about 8 hours or more of direct sun): Bandana lantanas, Little Ruby alternanthera, Senorita Rosalita cleome, Serena angelonias, Luna hibiscuses and Mesa gaillardias. Part shade to part sun (about 4 to 6 hours of direct sun): BabyWing begonias and Butterfly pentas. Shade to part shade (about 2 to 4 hours of sun or dappled light through the day): Kauai torenias.
Serenita Raspberry angelonia offers a unique flower color. Photo courtesy of Ball Seed