Agapanthus – tough and hardy for even the blackest of thumbs!

The tough-as-nails agapanthus (Lily of the Nile or African Lily) will tolerate drought and neglect and still put on a spectacular show over summer with flowering stems up to two metres tall.

October 1, 2020

Perfect border plant

With strappy leaves and compact dense foliage that crowds out weeds, the agapanthus is a great choice for borders along paths or pools. They'll thrive in sun or shade, but for maximum flowers, plant in full sun. Colours vary from dark purple through to blue to white. Select a size to suit the location - choose from ankle-high dwarf varieties to head-high giants.
Agapanthus do well in pots too. They like to be quite crowded, but still need plenty of soil so choose a large container and plant 3-4 specimens in it, rather than placing one plant in a small pot.

General care

Agapanthus grow in all soil types, as long as drainage is good, and require little water once established. A small amount of slow release fertiliser applied in early spring will help boost summer flowering. Remove spent flowers at the base before they seed, especially if grown close to natural bushland since agapanthus can displace native plants in areas of natural growth. During long spells of hot weather the leaves can suffer from sun scorch.

Dividing

To keep your agapanthus in prime flowering condition, lift and divide dense clumps every 4-5 years or so in autumn. Dig the whole plant out of the ground, knock off as much soil as you can, and separate each individual plant. You may need to use a pruning saw to cut through the dense root mat. Allow the plants to rest overnight before replanting the next day - this allows a callus to form over damaged roots. Use excess plants to start a new garden bed elsewhere or to fill gaps along borders.

Pests and diseases

Sap-sucking mealybugs can infest agapanthus, the first signs being distorted and dying leaves. Mealybugs are small insects that are covered in a powdery substance that looks like a fungus. They will hide deep down in the base of the plant which can make them difficult to treat. Remove all dead leaves and spray with pest oil or an insecticide formulated to treat mealybugs.

Look out for these varieties

Black Pantha

Deep purple flowers on stems up to 1m.

Snowball

Dwarf plant with pretty white flowers up to 50cm.

Cloudy Days

Dual-coloured flowers up to 1m.

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