Welcome to our continuing Plant of the Month slot at Botanic Home & Garden Centre, where we aim to showcase plants available in our garden centres that can really add a splash to your garden.
For June we have chosen Agapanthus, also called ‘African Lily’ or ‘Lily of the Nile’. This gorgeous plant is an herbaceous perennial which is native to Southern Africa. It comes in deciduous and evergreen varieties, with beautiful long leathery leaves. It produces large balls of trumpet-shaped flowers in summer on proud tall thin stems. Different varieties are available, with flower colours ranging from dark blue/purple to bright blue, pale blues and white. Heights vary between 30cm to 120cm depending on the variety. You can cut back the flowers at the end of the season to give the roots more energy for next year – but the seedheads look so elegant in autumn that you may not want to. Agapanthus are quite hardy plants, due to their origins in the hot and windy climate, and therefore do well in drought and in windy coastal locations, and they require very little maintenance.
How to Grow
Agapanthus can be planted in spring and summer. It will do well when placed in full sun. It’s good to plant young plants in a pot to restrict the roots, resulting in better flowers. Ensure the pot is not too large for the size of the plant. Plant them snugly in a good rich compost (such as multipurpose with John Innes), with a little sand or horticultural grit, and you can add slow-release fertilizers for added benefit. When the plant is established, it can be planted out into the ground. You can leave Agapanthus in containers though, either way, you may have to split the clump after a couple of years (best done in Spring or Autumn). If your plant is not flowering, it may be in a position where there is too much room around the roots, or too little sun. Cut back old Agapanthus flowering heads to encourage growth of new flowers throughout the summer, but you may like to leave some later in the summer, as the dried flower heads will look beautiful throughout autumn. There’s no need to cut back the leaves in autumn, indeed the leaves will give the plants extra protection from frosts. Evergreen plants may need to be taken inside in winter, but you can leave the hardy deciduous varieties in situ, perhaps adding some straw or fleece over the crowns in heavy frosts.
Agapanthus add a wonderful splash of colour to an herbaceous bed. As it’s a mid-height herbaceous plant, it can balance the bed to add lower-growing annuals and perennials to the front of the plant, such as Dianthus and Osteospermum (African daisies). Similar height plants such as Alliums and Lilium (lilies) work well beside Agapanthus. Growing taller plants behind by a fence or wall, such as clematis or climbing roses, also helps create a great border. You can add shades of similar blue-white plants nearby, or for a display to really catch the eye, add more sunshine colours such as Rudbeckia, Osteospermum and Helianthus (sunflowers). With 10% off all Agapanthus in our Cork and Wexford garden centres for the month of June, now is a great time to get some for your garden!