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Agapanthus africanus ‘Albus’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)
Agapanthus africanus ‘Albus’ (photo courtesy of Monrovia)

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Zone
Zones 6-9, 12-31, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Agapanthus africanus

Lily-of-the-Nile
Amaryllidaceae
Evergreen, Perennials, Flowers

AGAPANTHUS

All of these South African natives form fountainlike clumps of strap-shaped leaves that are evergreen in some species and varieties, deciduous in others. Evergreen kinds grow in Zones 6–9, 12–31, H1, and H2. Deciduous types grow in Zones 4–9, 12–21, 28-31.

In summer, the clumps give rise to bare stems ending in spherical clusters of funnel-shaped flowers, each cluster like a burst of blue or white fireworks. Some nursery plants are labeled only as “blue” or “white.” Choose plants while they’re in bloom if you require a particular shade of blue.

Prosper in full sun or light shade where summers are mild; need some afternoon shade in hottest areas. Evergreen kinds need protective winter mulch in Zone 6. Best in loamy soil but will grow in heavy soils. Thrive with regular water, but established plants in the ground year-round can grow and bloom without irrigation during prolonged dry periods in most areas; need supplemental water in the low desert.

For mass plantings, space plants 1–1 1/2 ft. apart (use the tighter spacing for smaller varieties). Divide infrequently; every 6 years or so is usually sufficient. These are superb container plants. Good near pools. Protect from snails and slugs.

Names of species have been very much confused over the years, largely because the plants hybridize so easily. It has even been suggested that all agapanthus are merely forms of one species.

Agapanthus africanus

Evergreen. Leaves are shorter and narrower than those of the more common A. praecox orientalis; flower stalks to 1 1/2 ft. tall, with 20 to 50 flowers per cluster. Blossoms are deep blue. Often sold as A. umbellatus. ‘Albus’ is similar to the species, but with lovely blooms of pure white.

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