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 in the UK?
Yes, Agapanthus are grown from seeds in the UK. The seeds can be dried and germinated, and they will grow into the perennial beauty that will come back year after year.
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 does 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.
Note: Lily of the Nile may take up to three years to become the thing of beauty you see in the picture above.
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 because 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 UK?
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.
When to Water and What to Feed 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.
What to do with Agapanthus After Flowering?
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.
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 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!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you cut back Agapanthus in winter?
It is generally recommended to leave Agapanthus foliage intact during the winter as it provides protection to the plant from cold temperatures. However, if the foliage has turned yellow or brown, it can be removed to maintain the plant’s appearance.
What do you do with Agapanthus in the winter?
During the winter, Agapanthus can be left in the ground if the temperatures in your area do not fall below freezing. If you live in a colder climate, it is best to lift the bulbs and store them in a cool, dry place until spring.
Are Agapanthus better in pots or in the ground?
Agapanthus can be grown successfully in both pots and in the ground. However, they do require well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight to thrive. In pots, Agapanthus can be moved to a more protected location in the winter if needed.
Do Agapanthus come back every year?
Yes, Agapanthus are perennial plants and will come back every year as long as they are properly cared for. They can live for many years and produce beautiful flowers each summer.
Do you cut back agapanthus after flowering?
After the flowers have finished blooming, it is generally recommended to leave the foliage intact until it begins to turn yellow or brown. This allows the plant to continue to produce energy through photosynthesis.
Should you deadhead agapanthus after flowering?
Deadheading Agapanthus can help promote the growth of new flowers and prevent the plant from using energy to produce seeds. It is best to remove the spent flower stalks as soon as the flowers have finished blooming.
Can you feed agapanthus with tomorite?
Yes, you can feed Agapanthus with Tomorite. Tomorite is a popular tomato fertilizer that is high in potassium, which promotes healthy flowering and fruiting. Agapanthus can benefit from the nutrients provided by Tomorite, especially during the growing season when they are actively producing blooms.
What to do if agapanthus gets frost damage?
Assess the extent of the damage: Examine the plant carefully to determine the severity of the frost damage. Look for signs of wilting, discoloration, or mushy foliage.
- Prune damaged foliage and roots: Remove any visibly damaged or blackened foliage and roots with clean and sharp pruning shears. Cut the damaged leaves close to the base of the plant.
- Wait for new growth: After pruning, allow the agapanthus some time to recover and produce new growth. It may take a few weeks or even months, depending on the severity of the damage and the growing conditions.
- Protect from future frost: If your region experiences frequent frost or cold spells, take precautions to protect your agapanthus in the future. Cover the plants with frost blankets or horticultural fleece before frosty nights, or consider moving potted agapanthus to a sheltered location during cold periods.
- Provide extra care: Help your agapanthus recover by providing it with optimal growing conditions. Ensure it receives sufficient sunlight, water it appropriately, and apply a balanced fertilizer to encourage healthy growth. Mulching around the base of the plant can also help insulate the roots and provide additional protection.
- Be patient: It’s important to be patient during the recovery process. Agapanthus is resilient, and with proper care and time, it can often bounce back from frost damage.
Hi, I’m Trev and I’ve been growing things since I can remember. When I was younger, I grew up on a farm, so I have always been around plants and animals. After studying horticulture at university, I decided to start my own nursery which I have run now for 25 years. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their gardens.