Agapanthus is commonly referred to as Lily of the Nile or African lily, although it is not actually a lily. These bold and striking plants have become increasingly popular in recent years, fitting in well with mixed borders and containers alike.
Agapanthuses are perennial plants that are usually grown for their impressive flowers. The most common varieties are purple and blue but they also come in pink and white. Both deciduous and evergreen varieties are available, some with thick foliage, others with thin grass-like leaves.
Agapanthuses originate from Southern Africa. The deciduous varieties come from the colder regions and are generally hardier than evergreen varieties, which may not last a harsh winter.
Agapanthus can be propagated by either dividing bulbs or using seeds. They should be planted in the autumn. Agapanthuses crown in spring and flower in summer and it can take two or three years for plants to fully establish themselves before flowering takes off in earnest.
Agapanthus is the only genus in the Agapanthoideae subfamily in the Amaryllidaceae family and is in the monocot order Asparagales. The number of varieties ranges from six to ten, depending on the authority. There are several hundred cultivars and hybrids in existence.
Some agapanthuses are fully hardy, others are half hardy. The evergreen ones are usually the most tender, as they originate from warmer climes and therefore require additional care.
Agapanthuses require fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny position in your garden. They can also be grown in pots and containers. Shady positions should be avoided, as the plants will not grow well or will grow an abundance of foliage without flowers.
Plants benefit from a layer of dry mulch or a fleece over the winter months to protect them from frost damage. This should be removed in spring.
Did You Know?
In some countries, varieties of Agapanthus are considered to be too invasive. In New Zealand, Agapanthus Praecox is classified as an environmental weed, although moves to have it added to their National Pest Plant Accord have come up against opposition from gardeners.