The Agapanthus or the Blue African Lily is one of the aristocrats of the late summer garden. The exotic combination of graceful foliage and stunning flowers is equally impressive in the border or large terracotta planter.The distinctive trumpet shaped blooms can grow up to 25cm (10”) across and are very long-lasting. They will bloom better in the sun, but the strap like foliage looks great in the shade. They do well in poor and rocky soil and bloom best when their root mass becomes crowded.
Agapanthus is frost tolerant and can be grown outdoors in full-sun or light shade. It is hardy to around -4 to -7°C (20-25°F), it can survive short frosts but should be protected with mulch when temperatures are below -4°C (20°F) for extended periods. This is a lovely plant to grow, very easy to germinate from seed and not prone to damping off nor slug damage.
Bear in mind that nearly all varieties will lean toward the sun, which makes a south facing border the most suitable aspect. North facing borders should be avoided if at all possible.
Sowing: Sow indoors in late winter to spring - February to May
Sow at temperatures of 16 to 18°C (60 to 65°F), just covering with a thin layer of well drained compost or vermiculite..
Agapanthus seed germinates better in a humid environment – place a plastic bag or plastic lid over the seed tray and keep the compost moist but not wet at all times
Germination can be erratic: between 30 to 90 days. The majority come up at 30 to 50 days, but don’t throw away the pots too soon, you may have a couple of “latecomers”
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays to grow on. Finish the surface of each pot with grit to retain moisture, keep down weeds and provide drainage around the crown of the plant.
Before planting outdoors in spring, gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out. Keep well-watered during the growing season, applying a balanced liquid fertiliser each month from spring until the plant flowers
Once established, Agapanthus require only the minimum of care, they do best when fed fortnightly with a potash-rich liquid (such as tomato feed) from May until September.
The bulbs must be protected in cold areas, it's worth covering plants with a deep mulch of well-rotted compost or straw in winter (or dig them up and take them inside)
Plants may need dividing about every three years in the spring; otherwise they won’t bloom exceptionally well. Use a sharp tool, split them into small clusters and replant in soil enriched with compost, and give a sprinkling of general fertiliser
Agapanthus like a sunny position, partial shade a few hours a day has no detrimental affect and soil ph does not affect them. The larger, taller flowers tend to do better in windy situations, since they naturally grow on the cliff tops.
Agapanthus do well when grown in containers, but need a well drained soil/compost. Use a mixture of a third top soil, one third compost and one third either grit sand or perlite. Feed with a high potash feed (tomato food) once in March, May July, August and September and with a general fertiliser in June (this ensures that plants receive all the trace elements which a high potash feed may otherwise make unavailable).
Agapanthus is a versatile subject that is excellent for cutting and which makes a good companion for a number of other garden plants. It is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. Flowers are fragrant
Wear gloves when handling the plant, in some people Agapanthus causes skin irritation or allergic reaction.
All of the Agapanthus species originate from the Cape of God Hope, South Africa, the first reaching Europe via Dutch settlers in 1652 and reaching the UK in 1687.
There are between six and 10 agapanthus species in South Africa. Rainfall varies in the Cape - the eastern side often gets plenty of summer rain, so agapanthus species from there tend to be deciduous and hardier. The western side of the Cape is hotter, with drier summers and warmer, wetter winters. Two evergreen species grow there and they are less hardy.
Agapanthus have now spread to many parts of the world. On Madeira they are planted to stop erosion. In Australia some outback farms plant a hedge of Agapanthus to keep out snakes.
Agapanthus belong to the family Agapanthaceae, the name comes from the Greek agape which means love and anthos which means flower, hence the name ‘flower of love’.
The species name africanus is derived from the Latin word referring to its origins on the African continent.
They are also commonly known as African Lily or Lily of the Nile.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 200 mg Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 500 seeds / gram Family Agapanthaceae Genus Agapanthus Species africanus Synonym Agapanthus praecox Common Name Lily of the Nile Other Common Names African Lily, Blue African Lily Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to around -4 to -7°C (20-25°F) Flowers Early to Mid Summer Height 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Spread 90 to 120cm. (36 to 48in) Position Full Sun Time to Sow Sow in late winter to spring - February to May Germination 30 to 90 days.