Agapanthuses or African lilies are not just good looking flowers! With their stately elegance, they will also bring a little of touch of exoticism to your garden.
Strictly available in blue or white, they however offer a good range of shades to choose from — from light blue to dark indigo blue and pure white to silver white with a hint of blue. Although they are not hardest plants to grow, they are also not the easiest and will need a little help and encouragement as they can be slow to establish. When they do however, the wait will have been worth it and you will be rewarded with amazing floral displays of large open flower heads from July to late August. Try planting them with crocosmias, achilleas and grasses. These are also excellent used as cut flowers!
Agapanthuses grow from rhizomes (not bulbs or tubers) and produce fleshy roots which like to be constricted. The leaves, depending on the variety can have different shapes and colours from light to dark green, grey-green and variegated. Like so many garden favourites, choose the right variety for your garden. If you’re unsure, agapanthus Africanus blue or white and blue giant are good hardy varieties and excellent plants to start you off. You can always grow the other varieties in pots and bring them indoors for winter care.
The best time to plant your agapanthus from bare root is from March to May. If planting agapanthus in pots, use a mixture of soil and compost mixed with a little sand and grit to help drainage. Agapanthuses like a well drained soil/compost. Feed every couple of weeks with high potash feed, or at least once a month when you see the green shoots appear. Tomato fertilizer is excellent for this, although keep in mind that it is also important to add some general fertilizer as well to make sure the agapanthus plants receive the best nutrients you can give them.
If growing in the garden, follow the same feeding tips for growing in pots. Agapanthuses are tolerant of salty winds and therefore make good coastal plants. Hailing from South Africa, they love the sun so plant them in a south facing position where they will produce stronger stems and more flowers over the years. Drought tolerant, they will however need some water at least twice a week. It is important that they are planted in a part of the garden that does not hold water as they do not like watterlogged soils. They are not hungry feeders but will reward you with a fabulous flower display. Always leave the leaves to die back naturally and leave until at least March before removing them as they will provide some protection to the crown of the agapanthus plants. A good mulch is required if you live in very cold areas. You can also plant non-hardy varieties in pots before sinking them just below soil level which will hide the pots. After flowering, remove them for winter. I have a few varieties in pots which I move around the garden to highlight different areas and plants.
Potential problems, pests and diseases:
They don’t suffer from major pests or disease and the taller varieties will do well in windy conditions.