Quick Tips on the Agapanthus Plants
Agapanthus plants, also known as the Lily-of-the-Nile, are perennials most prevalent to the Western United States, but can be found throughout most of the world. A South African plant in origin, the agapanthus loves the heat and but needs some protection from the full sun. The name Agapanthus comes from the Greek words agape (meaning love) and anthos (meaning flower) hence the flower of love.
It has been recorded that they migrated from Africa to England as early as the 1670's where they still remain popular to this day. Sometimes called African lilies Agapanthus plants are a relative to the lily and can be made to grow almost anywhere, but perform best in arid conditions. They are easy to take care of needing minimal attention.
Once agapanthus plants are established they make a beautiful border suitable in a landscape enhancing a wall facing the south. In time you may require thinning to keep them from over running the garden. They do quite well potted in containers as accent plants, but not simply because of their appearance. In the natural they grow from holes on the sides of mountains where their roots are most often root bound.
The blooms of various varieties of Agapanthus plants are beautiful and range in color from white to violet blue to dark blue. They produce large, round clusters (umbels) of funnel shaped flowers at the end of a tall (2-4 foot), thick stem measuring 6-8 inches across. They are surrounded by nice looking clumps of long, strap-like leaves that are slightly curved in or out of the blooming season.
The bulbs of Agapanthus plants are tuberous. Division is accomplished by separating the root clumps just after the plant has flowered. Separate where there is evidence of new growth (an eye). Bulb sections should be buried about 2 inches in freshly turned soil that drains well-best when planted in clumps of 2-3 about 18-20 inches apart. These plants can be started as seed but they will take 3-4 years before they flower.
You can not get too cramped for Agapanthus plants. The more crowded and densely packed the root system is, the better the flower production (from late spring to early autumn). They require only a fertilization in the spring and then again in the fall. They can even be trained to grow as dwarfs which grow to a maximum of about two feet in height maintaining there beauty while making them much easier to care for. After flowering, cut the stalks before the plant produces seeds as they will drain necessary nutrients for flowering the next season.
Agapanthus plants can be adapted to colder climates by burying them deeper, but they should never be exposed to temperatures below 20 degrees F. Water them weekly, especially when they are in active growth. When potting, plant one bulb in a 12 inch pot or three per 20 inch pot. (Placing foam packing peanuts in the bottom of the pot seems to stimulate flower production by raising the temperature of the soil in the container.)
If flower growth seems to be stunted on your indoor plants then thin the root system out a bit. Spraying insecticide may be necessary as Agapanthus plants are susceptible to mealy bugs and red spider mite infestation. Yellow leaf tips indicate over watering.
These delicate blooms of agapanthus plants-a particular favorite of the humming bird, are very decorative. When cut they will keep fresh up to a week in a vase. The beauty of the Agapanthus coupled with its ease of care make it a favorite plant of the home gardener.