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Growing Glamorous Agapanthus

Published: 6th June, 2018

Growing agapanthusAgapanthus, or African Lilies, are beautiful flowering perennials of South African origin. If you’ve ever been to the Mediterranean you’ll probably have noticed them growing prolifically in the wild in ditches, in rocky crevices, at the side of houses – wherever they can get a footing. Agapanthus have become very popular in recent years and their bold, architectural form is often seen in contemporary gardens.

From almost grass like foliage many long slender stems emerge. These produce large heads which bloom into a showy cluster of trumpet shaped flowers in bold colours of blue and white and sometimes tinges of pink, lilac and grey. There are some evergreen forms and some deciduous – the deciduous ones being generally hardier.

There’s the common myth that Agapanthus love to be pot bound. We’re not totally in agreement with that opinion. They like to be cosy in a pot but if they become too pot bound the roots will start to bulge out the top of the pot, all the nutrients in the compost will have been used up and they will most certainly give you fewer flowers.  So, do try and divide them every 2-3 years.  At the other end of the spectrum If you treat them too well giving them ample space in a bed or large container full of really rich compost, they will produce a mass of leaves, but the flowers will be few and far between. And of course, it’s the beautiful and exotic blooms that we are all after.

Our five golden rules for successfully growing Agapanthus are:

  • All Agapanthus are sun loving and will become very drought tolerant once established – so choose a sunny spot on the patio or in a sun-baked bed. Shady locations will lead to a mass of leaves and fewer flowers.
  • The do hate standing water so make sure they are planted in well- draining soil or compost, 2 parts compost to 1 part grit.
  • They do like to be restricted, just a little as mentioned above, so if planting in pots put 3 or 4 bulbs into a 12” pot,  quite closely spaced together and they’ll be quite happy there for 3 or 4 years.
  • They will respond to feeding so a liquid high-potash tomato food applied every two weeks during the summer will pay dividends.
  • For overwintering here in the UK for plants in a pot stop watering around October / November time and place in a greenhouse or shed until Spring, or if they are planted in the garden cover them with a thick layer of mulch or bark for the winter, mounding it up quite deeply around the crown of the plant for protection from frosts.

Agapanthus look great in borders or as a patio display grown in containers. They are terrific as cut flowers and are great for flower arranging. But best of all they are low maintenance and easy to grow. Follow our guide and you can achieve a fantastic display.

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