Common name; African Lily

Agapanthus are herbaceous or evergreen perennials originating from South Africa.

Some have thick, strappy leaves, others have grass-like foliage.

The strap leafed evergreen varieties grow to around 700mm (28") high, and the 50-70mm (2"-3") spherical umbels of flowers appear in July.

They range from fully hardy to half hardy, with the evergreen varieties generally the more tender.

They will thrive in any well-drained, sunny position in the garden, or in containers.

The showy flowers, commonly in shades of blue, purple, white or pink appear in mid summer.

1st year seedling
Mature flower
In the border

In the UK this species should be treated as a half hardy perennial, and as such, they should be located in a sheltered location with some winter protection, particularly in northern parts.

To alleviate this problem,consideration should be given to growing them in containers, doing so will allow you to move them under cover during winter.


Agapanthus can be propagated by seed but will not necessarily come true to type.

If seed are required, collect the seed pods as they turn brown in autumn and allow them to split apart indoors, store these in a cool, dry place and sow in the spring.

The seed heads can also be dried and used for winter decoration.

Cultivation notes:

Week 12:

Sow seed in pots/trays of seed compost, and maintain a minimum temperature of 13°C (55°F)

Germination should take around 3-4 weeks.

Week 17:

If weather conditions allow, plant out the crowns 50mm (2”) deep and 500mm (18”) apart in a fertile, well-drained soil.

Avoid planting in shade, as plants will either grow poorly or develop a mass of lush foliage at the expense of flowers.

Feed fortnightly with a balanced liquid feed during the growing season until flowers begin to show colour.

Keep well watered during growing season, and cut faded stems down to ground level after flowering.

Week 20:

Divide and replant in April/May if conditions allow.

Alternatively split after flowering!

Avoid splitting plants too often as this will reduce flowering.

Large clumps should only be split every four to six years.

Week 21:

If large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into 70mm (3”) pots of J. Innes No1 (or similar) then later into 150mm (6”) pots containing J.Innes No2 (or similar).

Grow plants on in a cold frame until planting out time the following year.

Seedlings may take two or three years to reach flowering size.

Week 40:

In exposed areas protect the crowns with a layer of bracken, straw or cloches.

Remove or scrape back the mulch in spring before growth starts.

Keep some agri-fleece at hand to throw over them if late frost is forecast.

Week 45:

Move young plants into a frost-free greenhouse or cold frame and plant out the following spring when danger of frost is over.

If growing in the border and your soil is prone to water-logging, or if they are in a frost pocket, it is worth considering lifting them and placing them in suitable containers and placing them in a frost free environment.

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