Lily-of-the-Nile

FAMILY: Agapanthaceae | GENUS: AGAPANTHUS

TYPE
  • Perennials
  • Bulbs
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
  • Moderate Water
  • Drought Tolerant

Plant Details

All of these South African natives form handsome, fountainlike clumps of strap-shaped leaves that are evergreen in some species and selections, deciduous in others. In summer, the clumps send up 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; if you want a particular shade of blue, choose plants in bloom. Great in containers. Good cut flowers.

A. africanus. Evergreen. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Shorter, narrower leaves than those of A. praecox orientalis; shorter flower stalks (to 112 ft. high) with fewer flowers (20 to 50 per cluster). Blossoms are deep blue. Often sold as A. umbellatus.

A. campanulatus. Deciduous. Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. To 3 ft. high, with drooping dark blue flowers. 'Albus' is white flowered.

A. inapertus pendulus 'Graskop'. Deciduous. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. A neat clump of light green leaves grows to 2 ft. high, followed by flowering stems that rise another foot above the foliage. The compact, dark violet-blue blossoms droop gracefully.

A. praecox orientalis (A. orientalis). Evergreen. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. The most commonly planted species. It forms big clumps with broad, arching leaves, with stems to 45 ft. tall bearing up to 100 blue flowers. White ('Albus'), double ('Flore Pleno'), and light to fairly dark blue selections, as well as some with striped leaves, are available. Often sold as A. africanus, A. umbellatus.

A. selections and hybrids. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11, unless noted. Types sold by selection or hybrid name include the following. All are evergreen, except as noted.

'Baby Blue'. Deciduous. Pale blue blossoms on 112-ft. stems.

'Blue Storm'. Growing 212 ft. tall and in a violet-blue color that blends with anything in the garden, this vigorous, long-blooming selection quickly multiplies into a showy clump with enough blooms to cut for indoor use.

'Bressingham Blue'. Deciduous. Plant is narrow but has 2-ft. stalks of purple flower clusters 4 in. across. Good performer.

'Elaine.' Large clusters of nodding bluish purple blossoms borne on 3- to 4-ft.-tall stems. Excellent.

'Ellamae'. Big clusters of large, dark blue flowers on stems to 5 ft. tall. Excellent.

Headbourne hybrids. Deciduous. Flowers in this group come in a range of blues and in white on 2-ft.-tall stems above fairly narrow, rather upright foliage.

'Henryi'. LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Evergreen. Flowers are white atop a plant 812 in. tall and 1215 in. wide.

'Mood Indigo'. Deciduous. Hybrid involving A. inapertus, with deep violet blooms on 3- to 4-ft. stems.

'Peter Pan'. LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Outstanding free-blooming dwarf selection. Foot-high foliage mass and blue flowers on 1-ft. stems.

'Queen Anne'. LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Foliage clump to 1 ft. high; blue blossoms on stems to 2 ft. Excellent.

'Queen Mum'. Deciduous. Grows 11 ft. tall and as wide. Flowers open white with purple base. Excellent.

'Rancho White'. LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Foliage clump grows 11 ft. high; broad leaves. Flower stalks 1 2 ft. tall carry heavy clusters of white flowers. This selection is also known as 'Dwarf White' and 'Rancho'. 'Peter Pan Albus' is similar or identical.

'Snowstorm'. LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. To 2 ft. tall, with snow-white flowers.

'Stevie's Wonder'. Flower stalks to 23 ft. tall are topped with rich blue-violet blooms. Top performer.

'Storm Cloud'. Growing 2 ft. tall and wide, this plant bears remarkably dark, blue-purple flower clusters.

'Sun Stripe'. Wide, cream-edged variegated foliage makes this agapanthus showy both in and out of bloom. It will reach 112 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide, topped with blue clusters of flowers.

'Tinkerbell'. LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11. Grows to 2 ft. tall, with light blue flowers and white-striped leaves.

Evergreen types tend to be less hardy, and (despite their description) they may become briefly deciduous in cold weather. 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. Mulch for winter protection in Middle and Lower South.

For mass plantings, space plants 11 ft. apart (use the tighter spacing for smaller varieties). Divide every 6 years or so. These are superb container plants. Good near pools. Seldom browsed by deer, but need protection from snails and slugs.

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