Agapanthus sp., or African Lily, is an herb with thick rhizomes native to South Africa. We are not sure of the species that we have, but I suspect it may be A. praecox or one of its subspecies. Agapanthus readily hybridizes in cultivation making hard to tell parentage. Ours has linear-lanceolate leaves to 20 inches (50 cm) long by 1.25 inches (3 cm) wide. Agapanthus has many medicinal properties and has been used to treat anything from infertility to heart disease. They are very easy plants to grow and do very well in large tubs or in the landscape in milder areas. Plants are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 7-11. I would like to thank my friend Jenny for bringing me seeds for this lovely plant.
Blooming: This spring marks the first time our plants have bloomed since we planted seeds 3 years ago. The umbellate inflorescence is held high above the foliage and has 30 flowers per stalk.
Culture: Agapanthus needs full sun to partial shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand. To this mix, I add 14-14-14 Osmocote slow release fertilizer at a rate of 1 cup per every 0.01 cu yards of soil mix. During the spring and summer, the plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. During the this period we fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer dilute to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, they are moved to the cool rooms where nighttime temperatures fall to 48°F (9°C) at night. Water is restricted and when the foliage dies off it is removed. In late winter, we resume watering and fertilization.
Propagation: Agapanthus is propagated from division of large clumps and from seed. Fresh seed germinates very readily. Seed should be sown in moist sand and be barely covered. Most seed will germinate in 14-30 days after sowing.
Agapanthus sp. was featured as Plant of the Week April 10-16, 2009.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.