On Gardening

On Gardening: Try Adessa angelonia

McClatchy-Tribune News ServiceApril 19, 2013 

LIFE HOME-ONGARDENING MCT

Adessa angelonia is a new series of summer snapdragons developed in Israel. They produce 20-inch tall spikes of flowers all summer.

HANDOUT — MCT

A new angelonia series called Adessa, from innovative Israel-based company Jaldety, has arrived in the U.S. marketplace, giving us countless angelonia varieties to choose from.

If you haven’t tried angelonias yet, then you will be shocked at what you have been missing. Known botanically as Angelonia angustifolia, they offer up snapdragon-like blossoms all summer. In fact the name “summer snapdragon” has really caught on in the gardening world. If you are wondering how we can have snapdragon flowers all summer, it is because these are from Mexico and the West Indies.

In the Adessa series you will find a rich purple, blue-and-white bi-color, white and pink. They are upright, reaching 20 inches in height, and offer a much-needed spiky look in the landscape. I consider angelonias among the top 10 flowers introduced in the last 25 years.

Although they are not as tall as the larkspur or Victoria blue salvia, Adessa angelonia exude a sense of belonging in a cottage-like garden. Remember: When you add spiky blooms, you create the real excitement in the garden. You could also use them in a tropical cottage, like one you might see on the Caribbean islands of Saba or St. Barts.

At the Columbus (Ga.) Botanical Garden, we are using Adessa purple in a complementary color scheme with large yellow African marigolds. They would also look super paired with New Gold lantana or planted in drifts adjacent to Tiger Eye gloriosa daisies. The white and pink varieties look awesome as companions to purple coneflowers such as PowWow Wildberry.

They perform best in full sun and planted in fertile, organic-rich beds that offer great drainage. They will be perennial in zones 9 and 10 but a much-loved annual in cooler zones, including North Carolina.

Once established, angelonias seem to have remarkable drought tolerance and thrive in our summer heat and humidity. This is particularly true in organic-rich beds in which a layer of mulch has been added. Pay attention, though, because supplemental irrigation would be necessary during a prolonged dry spell. Please do not stick this stunning plant in tight, compacted clay soil.

A light monthly application of a 2-1-2-ratio fertilizer, such as a 10-5-10 with minor nutrients, is all this plant needs to keep blooming. The bloom period is really long, and when it does want to cycle, it responds well to trimming back with a pair of pruning shears.

In addition to the new Adessa, also look for the award-winning Serena series and the new Serenita, which are slightly smaller at just 14 inches in height. Make this the year you try angelonias in your landscape; you’ll be getting a tough-as-nails summer performer.

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