Native to South Africa, Agapanthus (African Lily) are such flamboyant and exotic-looking perennials that it is impossible not to love them! Easy to grow, pest and disease free, they feature showy, rounded clusters of brightly colored flowers on stiff, upright stalks atop clumps of beautiful, long, shiny leaves. However, some basic rules need to be followed to enjoy their splendid flowers.
1. Select The Right Site
- Agapanthus thrive in full sun and need 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. However, they do better in partial shade in hot climate areas.
- Agapanthus perform best in fertile, moist and well-drained soil. They show no preference for pH, except Agapanthus africanus which prefers an acid soil.
- Fully hardy to half hardy, Agapanthus are hardy in zones 8-11 and some cultivars can be grown in zone 7. Not sure about your growing zone? Check here
2. Planting Your Agapanthus Rhizomes
- Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 50ºF (10ºC).
- Dig a hole and plant your rhizomes 2 in. deep (5 cm) and 12-18 in. apart (30-45 cm). That leaves them enough room to grow, yet close enough to help each other stay upright
- Agapanthus plants are heavy feeders and do best with organic compost worked into the soil at planting.
- Set the Agapanthus rhizomes with the pointed ends facing up. Cover with soil and water as needed. Protect in colder areas with a heavy mulch around the root zone to protect the plant from the cold.
- Water regularly during the growing season to ensure success.
- Feed twice during the growing season - once in early spring and again two months later. Avoid fertilizing your Agapanthus plants with high nitrogen fertilizers - use instead a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 5-5-5, or slightly higher in phosphorus than nitrogen. Suspend any fertilizer to either potted or in-ground plants by late summer.
- Removing the faded blossoms will promote new growth and prevent the plant from wasting energy on seed production. It will also stop seeds from setting in your garden.
- After blooming is over, keep the leaves so that the plant can put its energy back into its bulb for next summer’s blooming. The leaves give an energy charge to the bulb through photosynthesis and for this they need to keep their leaves!
- When the leaves begin to yellow, withhold water. Remove the foliage when it withers and dies back.
- Agapanthus are easy to propagate by division - between spring and early summer, or in early fall, after plants have finished flowering. Agapanthus species can be propagated by seed.
- Whether grown in a container or in the ground, Agapanthus should be divided every 4 years or so—deciduous types in March, just before they start growing, and evergreen types immediately after flowering.
- Agapanthus have few problems. The common reasons for Agapanthus to fail to flower are too much shade, cold weather or lack of winter protection.
- Most Agapanthus plants are winter hardy in zones 8-11, so in these climate zones the rhizomes can be left right in the ground. Some cultivars are hardy in zone 7.
- If you live in a colder area and you want to save your rhizomes for next summer, you may dig them up before the first frost.
- Evergreen Agapanthus should be brought inside and kept in a very bright location with temperatures in the 55-60°F range (12-15°C). During the winter, water lightly.
- Deciduous Agapanthus should be allowed to rest for the winter. Brush off the soil and allow them to dry out for a few days in a dry, warm location. Then store them wrapped in newspaper in a cool, dark location at approximately 40-50°F (4-10°C). Another alternative is to pot them up to grow indoors during winter. Keep them in a cool location, approximately 40-50°F (4-10°C), and since they have no foliage, they do not need special light. The soil should be kept just barely moist, meaning not allowed to go dry as a bone, until they resume active growth in the spring.
- Indoor plants can be fertilized just as any houseplant with light dilutions of food from February until you move the plant outdoors.