Agapanthus is also commonly known as the Lily of the Nile, African Blue Lily, and African Lily. The genus, Agapanthus includes about 10 species. Agapanthus flowers bloom in large, round clusters or umbels of blue, white or violet-blue. The funnel shaped Agapanthus flowers grow at the end of a thick 2 to 4 foot tall stem. The Agapanthus clusters measure about 6 to 8 inches across.
Agapanthus plants are native to South Africa, spreading across the Western Cape through to the Eastern Cape. Agapanthus grows in the shade of trees to get protection from the hot sun.
The Agapanthus africanus' anthers, like the petals, are bluish because the pollen is lilac in color. Agapanthus africanus shares this characteristic with Agapanthus caulescens and Agapanthus coddii. Bees visit and pollinate the Agapanthus flowers. The Agapanthus seeds are dispersed by wind. Agapanthus africanus are lily-like blooms and come in clusters made up of many bell-shaped flowers. The Agapanthus clusters are globe-shaped or pendular. Agapanthus flowers are in various shades of blue, from a dusky, powder blue to an almost indigo-purple, but there are some white varieties as well.
Facts About Agapanthus
- Agapanthus is a showy, widely grown plant for its exotic blue or white flowers that bloom from late spring until the beginning of autumn, depending on the species.
- The perennial Agapanthus grows from an underground rhizome each year.
- The tender Agapanthus africanus species is evergreen while the hardier Agapanthus campanulatus species, coming from moister, mountain grasslands, have slightly smaller flowers and die down during winter and re-emerge again the following spring.
- Agapanthus is suspected for causing hemolytic poisoning in humans, and the sap causes severe ulceration of the mouth.
- Agapanthus contains several saponins and sapogenins that generally have anti-inflammatory (reduce swelling and inflammation), anti-oedema (oedema - swelling due to accumulation of fluid), antitussive (relieve or suppress coughing) and immunoregulatory (have influence on the immune system) properties.
Propagation of Agapanthus is generally done by division of the root clumps immediately after flowering. The Agapanthus plants produce attractive clumps of long, curved, shiny, green, strap-like leaves, which grow from fleshy, tuberous roots.
Growing Agapanthus from seeds is a slow process. Sow the seeds in the early spring. Fresh seeds germinate easily at 70-80 deg. F (20-25 deg. C) and usually within 3 to 8 weeks. However, it takes up to 2 to 3 months. Grow one in pots. It takes from 3-4 years before the plants flower.
- Agapanthus plant needs a well-drained soil.
- Agapanthus grows best in a moderately fertile soil. A soil that is too rich will promote soft lush growth that is prone to winter damage.
- The Other requirement is a warm, sheltered position in full sun for most of the day.
- In a hot climate area, Agapanthus will do better in partial shade.
- Plant the Agapanthus rhizomes one inch (2.5 cm) deep and space 24 inches (60 cm) apart.
- Keep plants well watered during the growing season to ensure success.
- If a mealy bug or red spider mite becomes a problem in winter you may need to spray on an insecticide. Yellow leaf tips indicate waterlogged conditions.
Agapanthus Plant Care
- Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.
- Water the Agapanthus when the top 3 in. of the soil is dry.
- Agapanthus plants should be placed in full Sun.
- For a neat appearance, remove old Agapanthus foliage before new leaves emerge.
- Divide clumps every 2 to 3 years in early spring.