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Agapanthus (African Lily)

Lily of the Nile, African Lily

Agapanthus, lily of the Nile, African Lily, Blue flower, purple flower, agapanthus Africanus, Agapanthus Donau, Agapanthus Umbellatum

Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) are such flamboyant and exotic-looking perennials that it is impossible not to love them!

What is Agapanthus?

Agapanthus, commonly known as Lily of the Nile or African Lily, is a genus of flowering plants native to southern Africa.

  • Habit and Size: Agapanthus are herbaceous perennials growing in upright clumps from fleshy rhizomes that produce short, tuberous roots. They can reach 1-4 feet (30-120 cm) in height and spread.
  • Foliage: The foliage is attractive and provides interest when the plant is not blooming. It is comprised of strap-shaped, evergreen to semi-evergreen leaves that arch outwards, creating a lush, grassy texture in the garden. Some varieties have thick, strappy leaves, while others feature small, grass-like leaves. The foliage color varies from rich green to blue-green, and there are gorgeous variegated cultivars with cream or white stripes down the edge of their leaves – providing a striking contrast against the rich blue flowers. In colder climates, Agapanthus may die back in winter and emerge again in spring.
  • Flowers: Agapanthus are prized for their spectacular spherical flower clusters packed with 20-100 tubular to bell-shaped flowers. These clusters can reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. They range from shades of blue to pure white and are held atop sturdy, leafless stalks.
  • Blooming Season: Agapanthus bloom from early summer to early fall, depending on variety and species.
  • Hardiness: They are hardy in USDA zones 7-11, and in colder regions, they can be grown as container plants and brought indoors during the colder months. Not sure about your growing zone? Check here
  • Uses: They are a popular choice in borders, Mediterranean gardens, cottage gardens, or as a statement plant in containers.
  • Pollinators: These plants are excellent at attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  • Deer and Rabbit: They are considered deer and rabbit resistant, a bonus for many gardeners.
  • Toxicity: Agapanthus plants are poisonous and should not be consumed by humans and pets.

Guide Information

Hardiness 7 - 11
Heat Zones 1 - 12
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Agapanthus
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 4'
(30cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 4'
(30cm - 120cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Rabbit
Attracts Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Edging, Beds And Borders, Wall-Side Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Mediterranean Garden
Agapanthus ‘Donau’ (African Lily)
Agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’ (African Lily)
Agapanthus orientalis ‘Albus’ (African Lily)

Why Should I Grow Agapanthus?

Growing Agapanthus in your garden brings a host of benefits. Here are some reasons why you should consider this plant:

  • Visual Impact: Agapanthus’ striking blue or white flowers arranged in large globular clusters make a bold statement in any garden. They are particularly eye-catching when mass-planted, offering a spectacular display in full bloom.
  • Low Maintenance: Once established, Agapanthus are relatively carefree. They can withstand drought conditions and even neglect, thriving in a variety of soils as long as they are well-drained.
  • Long Blooming: Agapanthus provides a long season of interest, from early summer to early fall. Its vibrant green, strappy leaves also add texture and structure to your garden throughout the year.
  • Versatility: These plants are well-suited to a variety of garden styles, including Mediterranean, coastal, and cottage gardens. They can also be grown in containers, making them ideal for patios and smaller urban gardens.
  • Pollinator Friendly: Agapanthus is popular with bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, helping to support biodiversity in your garden.
  • Deer and Rabbit Resistant: If you live in an area with these garden visitors, the resistance of Agapanthus can save you a lot of hassle and plant loss.
  • Winter Interest: In milder climates, Agapanthus is evergreen, providing year-round interest in the garden.
Agapanthus ‘Arctic Star’ (African Lily)
Agapanthus ‘Luly’ (African Lily)
Agapanthus ‘Northern Star’ (African Lily)

Garden Design with Agapanthus

Agapanthus is a versatile plant that can be a stunning addition to any garden. Their vibrant, globe-shaped blooms and strappy leaves can fit into various garden designs, making them an excellent choice for a multitude of settings. Here are some ideas on how to integrate Agapanthus into your garden:

  • Borders and Beds: Agapanthus looks striking when planted en masse in borders or flower beds. The tall, upright structure of their flower stems can provide a strong vertical element, contrasting beautifully with shorter, bushier plants.
  • Containers: Smaller varieties of Agapanthus are perfect for container planting. Use a large pot and place it on your patio, balcony, or at the entrance of your home for a bold, welcoming display.
  • Coastal and Mediterranean Gardens: Agapanthus is a great fit for Mediterranean or coastal-style gardens due to its tolerance for salt and wind. Combine it with other sun-loving, drought-tolerant plants such as lavender, rosemary, and salvia.
  • Wildlife Gardens: As Agapanthus is a magnet for pollinators, consider incorporating it into a wildlife garden. Surround it with other nectar-rich plants to create a haven for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
  • Water Features: The structural form of Agapanthus, especially when in bloom, looks great around ponds or other water features. Its tall blooms can reflect beautifully in the water.
  • Mixed Planting: Agapanthus pairs well with a variety of other plants. Combine it with ornamental grasses for a natural, meadow-like effect, or with plants such as daylilies, echinacea, or roses for a colorful, mixed border.
Agapanthus Doctor Brouwer (African Lily)
Agapanthus praecox orientalis ‘Queen Mum’ (African Lily)
Agapanthus Silver Moon (African Lily)

Companion Plants

Agapanthus, with its striking blue or white flowers and lush green foliage, pairs beautifully with a variety of plants. When selecting companion plants, consider their growth habit, flowering time, and color palette to create a cohesive, visually pleasing garden design. Here are some ideal companions for Agapanthus:

  • Roses: The elegant flowers of roses complement the globular blossoms of agapanthus.
  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis): The taller varieties of daylilies make a lovely contrast with the round blooms of agapanthus.
  • Lavender (Lavandula): The soft purples of lavender pair beautifully with the bolder blues and whites of agapanthus.
  • Salvia: The spiky flowers of salvia varieties can provide a nice textural contrast to the rounder agapanthus blooms.
  • Ornamental grasses: The fine textures of grasses like blue fescue or switchgrass contrast nicely with the thicker leaves and stems of agapanthus.
  • Echinacea: These sturdy, bright perennials add a lovely contrast to the cool tones of agapanthus.
  • Gaura: With its delicate, airy flowers, gaura makes a nice foil for the bold agapanthus blooms.
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): The silvery foliage and light purple flowers contrast well with agapanthus.
  • Canna: The tropical leaves of canna and its bold flowers can create a dramatic backdrop for agapanthus.
  • Yarrow (Achillea): The flat, colorful blossoms of yarrow can complement the round blooms of agapanthus.
  • Catmint (Nepeta): The soft, mounding habit of catmint can create a lovely contrast with the more rigid form of agapanthus.
  • Dahlias: The diverse colors and forms of dahlias can provide a delightful contrast with agapanthus.
Agapanthus ‘Black Buddhist’ (African Lily)
Agapanthus Ever Sapphire (African Lily)
Agapanthus Fireworks (African Lily)

Growing Tips

Growing Agapanthus can be quite straightforward with the right conditions and care. Here are some tips to help you grow healthy and flourishing plants:

  • Location and Soil: Agapanthus thrive in full sun in fertile, moist, and well-drained soil. In hot climate areas, they will do better in partial shade. They show no preference for pH, except Agapanthus africanus, which prefers acid soil.
  • Planting: Plant in spring or fall. If you’re growing from a pot, dig a hole twice the pot’s diameter, place the plant in, then backfill with soil, ensuring the top of the rootball is level with the surrounding soil. If planting bare roots, ensure the plant crown is level with the soil surface.
  • Watering: While established Agapanthus can tolerate dry conditions, they’ll do best with regular watering in the growing season, especially in dry spells. Avoid waterlogging, as this can cause the roots to rot.
  • Feeding: Feed your Agapanthus with a balanced fertilizer in spring as new growth appears and again in midsummer to promote blooming.
  • Pruning: Agapanthus doesn’t require much pruning, but you can remove spent flower stalks to keep the plant looking tidy. Cut these back to the base once blooming has finished.
  • Overwintering: In colder climates (zones below 7), Agapanthus may need some protection in winter. Mulch around the base of the plants or move container-grown Agapanthus indoors.
  • Dividing: Agapanthus flowers best when it’s slightly crowded, but if plants become too congested or stop blooming, you may need to divide them. This is best done in spring.
  • Pests and Diseases: Agapanthus can be susceptible to aphids, slugs, snails, and spider mites. They may also be prone to root rot if the soil is too wet. To prevent these issues, maintain good garden hygiene, provide proper drainage, and monitor for pests regularly. Agapanthus have few problems. The common reasons for Agapanthus to fail to flower are too much shade, cold weather, or lack of winter protection.

Recommended Companion Plants

Crocosmia (Montbretia)
Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker)
Cannas (Canna Lilies)
Achillea (Yarrow)
Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender)
Salvia (Sage)
Hemerocallis (Daylilies)
Gaura (Bee Blossom)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
Nepeta (Catmint)
Dahlia
Echinacea (Coneflower)

Garden Examples

A Lovely Mediterranean Border with Lavender and Lilies of the Nile
A Naturalistic Border Idea with Perennials and Grasses
A Lovely Contemporary Garden Idea
A Lovely Mediterranean Border with Russian Sage and Lilies of the Nile
A Pretty Mediterranean Border Idea
An Attractive Shady Garden Idea with Ferns, Hostas and Agapanthus
A Brilliant Summer Border Idea with Crocosmia, Agapanthus and Grasses
A Lovely Border Idea with Achillea, Agapanthus and Grasses
A Sparkling Summer Border Idea with Easy-to-Grow Perennials
Compare All Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)
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Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 7 - 11
Heat Zones 1 - 12
Climate Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1, H2
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Agapanthus
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 4'
(30cm - 120cm)
Spread 1' - 4'
(30cm - 120cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Rabbit
Attracts Bees, Birds, Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Edging, Beds And Borders, Wall-Side Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Mediterranean Garden
Compare All Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)
Compare Now
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile)

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