Caring for African lilies — all tips and tricks for agapanthus

African lilies are herbaceous perennials that are easy to care for and delight with their impressive umbel flowers year after year in summer. The fascinating blue of the flowers is very rare and therefore makes the species a real gem. Frost-free wintering is a prerequisite for a long life. These beauties have been known as traditional potted plants for a long time and are valued in parks, castle gardens and cities. The most common are Agapanthus hybrids in horticultural culture. The name love flower is derived from the botanical name agapanthus: agape=love and anthos=flower. Most of the decorative plants have blue flowers.

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Worth knowing about Agapanthus

Botanical name: Agapanthus hybrid
Other names: African African lily, blue tuberose, love flower
Use: Mediterranean plant for patios, balconies, gardens, potted plants, cut flowers, bee pasture
Origin: South Africa
Flower colours: blue, white, white-edged
Flowering period: July to September
Special features: Most varieties are deciduous. An exception is Agapanthus praecox as an evergreen plant. The flowers are reminiscent of ornamental onions, which, however, bloom earlier in the year and belong to the bulbous family. To be on the safe side, you should plant African lilies in tubs and hibernate frost-free. Attention, the fleshy rhizomes of the African lily are poisonous.

In which location does the African lily feel most comfortable?

According to their origin, Agapanthus like to be in full sun. The heat-loving species can be in the garden or on the terrace from May until just before the first frost in autumn. Sun worshipers thrive best in a warm spot. Partial shade is possible, but the abundance of flowers is somewhat lower. A protected location on the terrace or balcony is therefore ideal. In winter, the flowering plant cannot stay outdoors in our latitudes. It is therefore important to protect beauty from the cold in good time. Planting out in the ground is not recommended, since low temperatures and moisture damage the fleshy roots.

How do I water my agapanthus?

African lilies tolerate phases with less water, but never waterlogging. The herbaceous plants can store water well in their rhizomes and fleshy roots, but suffer quickly when there is standing water. Therefore, water moderately and make sure that there is no excess water over a long period of time. The amount of water required depends heavily on the sunlight, the location and the size of the plant and root ball. It is important that only a little is poured in the winter quarters, the soil can dry out.

Tip: It is important that the container has good drainage holes. The roots of the Agapanthus do not tolerate standing water at all.

How do I fertilize the African lily?

Fertilize your Agapanthus when they sprout in spring with pot plant fertilizer or organic natural fertilizer. Both work for weeks and support the African lilies in leaf formation. From mid-May you can work with liquid balcony and bedding plant fertilizer with humate every 2 to 3 weeks. In addition to minerals and trace elements, this special fertilizer contains naturally occurring humic substances that improve metabolism and nutrient absorption. Regular fertilizing is necessary because a limited volume of soil in the pot means that nutrients can only be stored to a limited extent. The last fertilization takes place at the beginning of August, fertilization is not necessary in the winter quarters.

Pro tip: use good quality slow release fertilizer when repotting. In this way, the African lily is optimally supplied with nutrients right from the start.

How do I care for my Agapanthus?

African lilies are extremely easy to care for and apart from regular fertilizing and watering, no maintenance work is required. A cut is not necessary. It is recommended to remove yellow leaves and withered inflorescences. The latter do not look good and ripening of the seeds unnecessarily costs the African lily. Cut the stems as low as possible, another option is to pull them out with a jerk.

How do I repot my African lily?

Young agapanthus can initially be in the same pot for a few years. Transplant the deciduous plant into a larger pot only when the fleshy roots have completely filled the culture vessel. It is best if you repot after the winter. The new soil supports the popular potted plant in budding and the effort involved in care is reduced. When repotting, it is important to use the right soil and the right container with a drainage hole. Pot plant soil that retains the right structure even after years in the pot is ideal. The pH of the potting soil should be between 6 and 7.5. First fill in a drainage layer of expanded claya. In this way you prevent harmful waterlogging and create the best conditions for Agapanthus.

What is the best way to overwinter my Agapanthus?

Agapanthus are hardy plants that can be outdoors well into the fall. Most species are not hardy and should be kept in a frost-free room in winter. From October you should place the African lilies in the bucket in the winter quarters to protect them from night frost. Light frosts with temperatures down to 0 degrees Celsius are tolerated, the Mediterranean plants suffer at lower temperatures. Deciduous Agapanthus hibernate best in a cool and dry place, preferably in a dark room. At the end of winter, more light is needed for budding. To do this, place the pots in a place with temperatures around 10 degrees Celsiusand water every 2 weeks. Evergreen agapanthus should be bright, dry and at temperatures between 0 and 7 degrees Celsius from October. Excessively high temperatures in the winter quarters impair the formation of flowers and the evergreen species in particular thrive.

Care tips: Gradually acclimate the overwintered plant to outdoor conditions in the spring. The right time to hibernate is an overcast day with no wind and temperatures of at least 10 degrees Celsius. A wind-protected, shady and bright place is ideal for the first few days. If there is still a risk of night frost, it may not be advisable to clear out the winter quarters until mid-May.

Which Agapanthus species are there?

Basically, a distinction is made between deciduous and evergreen varieties. The species that move in in winter are conditionally hardy in regions with a mild climate. In England these varieties are planted in borders. The evergreen African lilies are more sensitive to frost and should only be in the garden as a seasonal plant in summer.

What pests and diseases can the African lily get?

In the right location, the impressive flowering plants are a feast for the eyes year after year. If the plants are wintered too warm, the leaves are soft and susceptible to pests.

FAQ — Frequently Asked Questions

How does propagation take place?

Agapanthus are best propagated by division or sowing. Since the beauties grow slowly, division is usually only advisable for old specimens. The perennials do well in the same pot for many years and, with a restricted root space, have more flowers than freshly divided specimens.

What can be the reason for the lack of flowers?

Missing new flowers are usually due to various causes. In addition to a lack of sun and warmth, as well as a lack of fertilizer and water, it may be that a bucket that is too large is responsible for the lack of flowers. The longer the plant can grow undisturbed, the more lavishly it flowers. Too warm hibernation (temperatures above 18 degrees Celsius) can also be the cause.

Can agapanthus be planted out in the garden?

In addition to the low temperatures, the moisture also causes problems for the roots. We recommend culture in containers and sheltered overwintering. As a summer bloomer, you can plant the rhizomes like dahlias or gladioli and dig them up in the fall. Overwintering in the cold season is easy and guaranteed to be successful.

Are African Lilies poisonous?

Especially the fleshy rhizomes of the African lilies are poisonous. Children should also not eat leaves and flowers, as they can cause nausea.

Are African lilies suitable as cut flowers?

All agapanthus varieties can be bud-cut and are long- lasting cut flowers reminiscent of the south.

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