Native to South Africa, and commonly known as African lily or Lily-of-the-Nile. This exotic looking perennial is easy to grow and has become very popular in recent years.
However, like all plants, there are some basic guidelines to follow to help get the best out of this graceful looking plant.
Choosing Your Agapanthus
There are various varieties of Agapanthus to choose from to suit your garden;
There is the smaller kind that will grow from 8 inches to 2 feet (20-60cm), while others can grow up to 5 feet (150cm) in height. All varieties can be grown in pots.
The evergreen Agapanthus tends to be more tender, you may be better growing this type of Agapanthus in a container, so you can move it into a cool greenhouse or sheltered position in your garden to overwinter.
Deciduous Agapanthus which lose their leaves in winter are the hardest toughest variety and make the best choice as a border plant.
Choose a shade of colour that works with the plants already in your garden. Agapanthus produces blue, purple, pink or white blooms.
Where To Plant Agapanthus
Agapanthus will thrive in moist, well-drained soil in full sun.
Avoid planting in the shade as they won’t produce many flowers.
If your soil is prone to waterlogging grow Agapanthus in containers.
When To Plant Agapanthus
Plant in spring from the end of March into April.
How To Plant Agapanthus
Planting In A Border
If you have purchased a pot grown Agapanthus plant them the same depth that they are in the pot. If you have bought bulbs or rhizomes, the noses should be covered with 2 inches (5cm) of soil.
Planting In A Container
Grow single plants in 8 to 9inches (20-23cm) diameter containers using a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No. 2 or No. 3.
Regularly water in the growing season, especially in the first year after planting. Once established they will need little watering, but if there is a prolonged dry spell in late summer watering your agapanthus will help ensure good flowering for next year.
Agapanthus grown in borders can be fed in spring when they start to grow with a balanced fertiliser, such as Growmore or chicken manure pellets.
For container-grown Agapanthus feed fortnightly from April until flowers begin to show colour with a liquid fertiliser, such as Phostrogen or Seaweed feed.
Deadhead when flowers have faded, This will encourage your Agapanthus to flower longer, but some also like to leave on the seedheads for early winter interest.
Once you have an established Agapanthus between three and five years old, they can be dug up and divided into smaller clumps. This is the best way to make more plants of a cultivar as all the new clumps will be exactly the same.
You also propagate Agapanthus from seed, however, the resulting plants will be different from their parents.
Why Is My Agapanthus Not Flower?
Failure to flower is quite a common problem with Agapanthus, however, it’s a problem that can be resolved.
To ensure a good flower display next year, keep plants well-watered until autumn after flowers start to fade, which will encourage the development of new flower buds.
Although it is often said, Agapanthus don’t actually flower better when they are pot-bound. It is true they like to be cosy in their pot, and flowering is poor when overpotted or over-divided, but they also flower poorly when excessively pot-bound. Try repotting every two-three years, plus watering and feeding in spring, to improve flowering.
Too much shade, cold weather and lack of winter protection are also common reasons for agapanthus to fail to flower.
Too much winter warmth may lead to early flowering, but the flower quality will be poor.
Agapanthus was originally called the African hyacinth or African lily. In Europe and America, it is still known as the African lily, or even the lily of the Nile, which is rather geographically off the mark. At home in South Africa, they are most often called agapanthus or the blue lily.
Agapanthus has been recently placed in the Amaryllidaceae family, which is the family of amaryllis, that contains three subfamilies – Allioideae (onion family), Amaryllidoideae (amaryllis family) and Agapanthoideae (agapanthus family).
‘Agapanthus’ comes from the Greek words ‘agape’ and ‘anthus’, and when
Agapanthus is grown from seed or division of their roots and is classified as an invasive weed in some countries such as New Zealand.
In traditional medicine, agapanthus is believed to be both medicinal and magical, and it is the plant of fertility and pregnancy. It is used in various medicines taken during pregnancy and is worn by women as a charm to bring strong, healthy babies. It is used to treat heart disease, paralysis, coughs, chest pains and chest tightness. It is also worn by people who fear thunderstorms, as it is believed to ward off thunder.