Summer snapdragon, (Angelonia angustifolia), is a tropical perennial in the Plantaginaceae family, a very large group that includes plantain, penstemon, and foxglove.
Summer snapdragon’s name is somewhat misleading. It does resemble the common garden snapdragon, Antirrhinum majus, as well as the wild version, Linaria vulgaris, aka butter and eggs, or toadflax.
However, unlike these childhood favorites of mine, its double lips do not flex open and close when pinched, like the mouth of a friendly dragon. Instead, they remain fixed, more like the blossom of a penstemon.
In addition, unlike its snapdragon cousins that come from temperate regions of Asia and Europe, A. angustifolia comes from Central and South America, and the West Indies, where it thrives on heat and humidity.
You may also find this plant under the name narrowleaf angelon/angelonia, or angel flower.
Showy and Sun-Loving
Summer snapdragon grows as an annual in my area, where hot, humid summers and cold winters are the norm.
Easily started from seed or cuttings, A. angustifolia plants produce showy spikes of clustered blossoms in an array of shades, including pink, red, blue, purple, and white. Many of today’s cultivars have contrasting throat colors for added visual interest.
This is a plant that grows best with full sun, in loamy, moist, well-drained soil. It is especially important to provide these optimal conditions while it’s getting established in your garden. But once underway, even a dry spell shouldn’t undermine its progress.
A mass of summer snapdragon makes a beautiful garden focal point. Keep yours in top form by periodically pruning a stem or two from each clump, to encourage continuous blooming. Fill a vase for display at your next dinner party!
When your plants really take off, you may find that you need to thin them out. Be sure to read our article, The Complete Guide to Dividing Perennials, for easy instructions.
A. angustifolia Plant Facts
- 1 to 2 feet total height
- Blooms June through September
- Colors include blue, pink, purple, red, white, and two-tone
- Easy to grow
- Full sun
- Moist, well-drained loam
- Scented leaves deter deer
- Tolerates heat, humidity, and drought
- Zones 8 to 11 perennial, annual elsewhere
Where to Buy
A. angustifolia ‘Serinita’ is available from Outsidepride via Amazon. This variety is a compact type that reaches a height of just 12 to 14 inches, as opposed to the typical 18 of a ‘Serena’ cultivar.
It thrives as a perennial in the heat and humidity of southern regions, and as an annual in cooler climates.
Form and Function
Are you putting cheerful summer snapdragon on the shopping list for your next garden project, so you can enjoy robust color all summer long?
It’s a great choice because it flourishes in heat and humidity as either an annual or perennial, and its showy stems add height and structure to beds, borders, and containers
And guess what?
It has leaves that smell a little like apples, and this scent repels deer!
So, if deer are a problem in your yard, plant a lush border of A. angustifolia to keep them at bay.
And while we’re at it, there’s another exceptional plant that deer don’t like – anise hyssop. You’ll love its delicate lavender spikes and soft anise fragrance, but the deer won’t!
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Product photo via Outsidepride. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
About Nan Schiller
Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!