The Agapanthus, which is also commonly known as the African Lily or the Lily of the Nile, is a deciduous or evergreen flowering plant that is part of the Liliaceae (Lily) family. The Agapanthus originates in South Africa and is a herbaceous perennial plant. In general, it blooms during the summer months. There are between six and 10 species of the Agapanthus.
The Agapanthus has tall, graceful stems that can grow to be between 2 and 6 feet tall. They are covered with clusters of pleasant flowers that range in color from white to deep blue. The flowers appear similar to the lily.
The Agapanthus can be cultivated in the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) plant hardiness zones of 7 to 11. They can be grown in the colder zones by being planted deeper, and also by mulching. If temperatures do not drop lower than 20 F, they can permanently stay outdoors. The Agapanthus needs to be grown in soil that is well-drained and composed of one part leaf mold, one part manure (well-decayed) and two parts loam. In periods of active growth, the Agapanthus needs to be both watered and fertilized once a week. They should be placed in either partial shade or full sun. In hot areas, they should be placed in partial shade.
Some well-known varieties of the Agapanthus include Agapanthus umbrellatus, Agapanthus campanulatus, Agapanthus inapertus, Agapanthus nutans, Agapanthus africanus, Agapanthus praecox, Agapanthus coddii, Agapanthus orientalis, Agapanthus dyeri, Agapanthus mooreanus, Agapanthus cauluscens and Agapanthus pendulus.
The Agapanthus should be propagated by division, either during spring or autumn, and by seed. Before dividing, they should be root-bound. In general, this takes about 4 or 5 years to occur. They need to be divided by using a knife to cut the rhizomes to give each section several roots. It might take about a year for the plants to get established to their full blooming abilities. In the springtime, seeds can also be sown; however, this will make the plants not bloom until the third year.
The Agapanthus is primarily used as a pot plant. Although the Agapanthus is usually used as an accent plant, in regions where it is hardier, it can be used for ground cover or as a border plant.