Opened agapanthus

The Agapanthus is a native flower of Southern Africa but can now be found in many places around the world. The Agapanthus or ‘Lily of the Nile’ as it is commonly known in the UK is not actually a Lily at all.

So, if it is not a lily, what is an Agapanthus? Agapanthus is part of the Amaryllidaceae family in the monocot order Asparagales. The name Agapanthus is derived from the Greek ‘agape’ meaning love, and ‘anthos’ meaning flower.

What does an Agapanthus look like?

The Agapanthus flower head is made up of lots of tubular or trumpet-like flowers that look a lot like tiny lily’s hence the nickname Lily of the Nile. The Agapanthus comes in different shades of blues and purples and they also come in white.

The Flower stands tall over the long, thin and leathery leaves that start at the base of the plant.

Much of the stem is underground and this is known as a rhizome, and this is used to store energy for the plant. Thick white roots grow from the rhizome into the ground to absorb water and other nutrients.

Can you Grow an Agapanthus from seed?

Yes, Agapanthus are grown from seeds. The seeds can be dried and germinated, and they will grow into the perennial beauty that will come back year after year. They may take up to three years to become the thing of beauty you see in the picture above. 

The hardiest Agapanthus’ are deciduous meaning that they will die back and lose their leaves for the winter and all their energy is stored in the rhizome. There is another more tender Agapanthus (which do well in pots) that may need to be moved to the greenhouse for winter. Agapanthuses are quite easy to grow and the hardier species are particularly low maintenance.

How to Grow an Agapanthus in the Garden

Plant your Agapanthus in the springtime. You will want to choose an area of well-drained soil that gets plenty of sunlight, as if they are too shaded, they will not flower very much.

You will want to plant your bulbs or rhizomes around 5 inches down so that there are at least 2 inches of soil covering the nose (if you are moving them from containers, plant them at the same depth as they were previously).

How to Grow an Agapanthus in Pots

For each individual Agapanthus, you will want at least an 8-inch diameter pot. Place enough compost in the bottom of the pot or container to ensure that you can cover the nose of the bulb when planted. Agapanthus will benefit from a loam-based compost and we recommend that you use John Innes number 3.

What to feed an Agapanthus

After planting, the Agapanthus will require regular watering at least throughout the first year until the plant is established. Once the Agapanthus is well established, you will not need to water too much unless you experience a particularly dry summer.

Feeding Agapanthus in Containers

For Agapanthus grown in containers, you should use a liquid fertiliser such as seaweed feed (amazon link – opens in a new tab). Feed your Agapanthus every two weeks as per the instructions on the bottle and then discontinue once the flower begins to bloom.

Feeding Agapanthus Border Plants

For border plants, it is advisable that you use a balanced fertilizer around the time of planting and then you should continue to fertilise each spring after that.

How to look after an Agapanthus

Deciduous Varieties

For deciduous species of Agapanthus, you should cut back the stem to around 3 ½ inches once the flower and leaves have begun to die off for winter.

Evergreen Varieties

The evergreen varieties of Agapanthus do not require cutting back although they can be appropriately trimmed to remove any dead or damaged areas.


The Agapanthus African Lily of the Nile is a beautiful plant that requires a lot of direct sunlight and makes a great addition to any garden whether in a pot or as part of your border display.

Once established, the plant requires little in the way of maintenance making this ideal for those that are not able to be tending their garden every day.  

The Agapanthus definitely makes our list of best plants to have in your garden

Garden Doctor Trev

Garden Doctor Tips

“To prolong the flowering time of the Agapanthus, it is recommended that the deadheads are removed from the plant as soon as they fade!”

“If you live in a cold area or your garden is prone to waterlogging; you should grow your Agapanthus in pots!”

“Do not forget to take your containers indoors or into the greenhouse for the winter. Even the hardiest of plants in pots will benefit from the added protection!”

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