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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Many Pretty Faces of Agapanthus

Assuredly (this is solely my humble opinion) there are few perennials grown in central Florida offering as much zing in the summer garden as the tall and towering Agapanthus, A. africanus Lily of the Nile when it flowers.

For that reason alone each plant has been divided numerously, over the course of several seasons, to spread its generous contribution into almost every border of the front and back gardens.

From the day the first buds seemingly spring into the air on 3-4 foot scapes, above clumps of evergreen strappy foliage, this gardener is awe-struck.

Embarrassingly so at times.

Lustily adoring each phase.

As that singular, large green pod gives way to multiple, smaller buds with the promise of a larger burst of blue with each opening.

Given a few more days, in keeping with its steadfast loveliness, each developing blossom, waits its turn to break forth into individual lily-like flowers. Gradually each one popping open to display yet its own pretty face.

Not wanting to miss a single phase of the transition I find myself paying close attention to the transformation from each tightly budded beginning to the final result of each pom-pom shaped flower.

Most of the year this wonderfully evergreen and cold hardy plant is quiet yet faithful to perform as an integral part of the foundational plantings. As the strappy, arching clumps mature they spread on rhizomes that can be split up and transplanted with little effort.

I prefer to see Agapanthus planted in groupings for increased impact or, if singly, used in containers in combination with coleus or other summer annuals.

This year the first buds arrived in the beginning of May. All the way into this week more new buds are shooting up to aid in prolonging my admiration of them well into summer.

Recalling how it was named among the six plants I can't live without article I wrote last year it is easily confirmed that it would make that list again if I were to write it anew today.

The cool blue-ish hue of the blooms and contrasting bright chartreuse stems blend in next to wildflowers, caladiums, firebush, Indian hawthorn, impatiens, coleus, plumbago, and ornamental grasses.

As I think about it, there isn't a single situation in which it doesn't merge nicely and make a home for itself with ease in any combination.

Possibly to increase my joy of these favorite beauties the butterflies and pollinators are equally attracted to it for nectaring.
Dear readers, you are the best allowing me to go on and on over any number of plants I love to love. If you don't grow this one I highly recommend it if you couldn't guess that already. It is drought resistant and cold hardy. Some years I give it a boost of bone meal just before blooming time. Other than that it is fully on its own.

Happy Gardening,


  1. Meems, I enjoyed your poetic ramblings over the deserving Lily of the Nile. I too love this great plant, though I'm a little green-eyed over your many, many, divided and redivided plants. I have only one, though it has multiplied to the point of needing division. Please tell me when is the best time of year to divide, or is any alright?

  2. Oh, you take such beautiful pictures of Lily of Nile, and give it a spotlight that it deserves! I have to ask what is secret of yours to grow such beautiful lush and prolific bloomers! Mine only have two flower spikes for now. And the leaves are just not as healthy as yours. Do you need to feed it? If yes, how often? Of course, I know you have wonderful soil as well with those compost, and manure :)

  3. Agapanthas was my first lesson in zones. I grew them because of the beautiful blooms and they did well that summer. However it is too cold here. They died. It took me awhile to figure out that it was a zone thing. I can see why you adore them. I do too, from afar.

  4. The blue flower is quite appealing. Can't recall ever seeing this plant but it is going on the research list. If it can be divided into more free plants and is drought tollerant it sounds like a good candidate for the sandpit.

  5. Floridagirl,
    I started out with one plant that my neighbor gave to me many years ago. It didn't even send up a bloom for a couple of years. I planted it in too much shade.

    I think the best time to divide them is in the fall after they've bloomed. But Floridata says to do it in early spring at the start of new growth. And last year I did it smack in the middle of summer when I designed the "front lawn renovation" in July. Those are blooming nicely now.

    I wouldn't normally suggest dividing anything when it's this hot ... requires too much watering to get them established. In Florida there are no hard and fast rules as long as the soil is warm enough to sustain the root system while getting established.

    Thank you for your comment. I do think the soil with added organics such as compost, manures, and natural mulches helps. None of mine receive more than 4 hours of sun and in most locations it is filtered sunlight. The only fertilizer I give them is a healthy dose of bone meal mixed in with the soil around the roots in April before they bloom.

    It's a shame we have to give in occasionally to the zone thing. We can try to push the limits and sometimes it works and well... you know... sometimes we just have to let go. Come around here anytime... I've got folders of photos of them to share with any willing soul. :-)

    They are reported to be hardy to zone 11. You'll need to find a not-so-sunny place for them. In my experience they do better with some brightly filtered light.

  6. Meems - I agree that the agapanthus is stunning! Once upon a time, I grew one in a container. Long gone now!

  7. Thank you Meems for the enjoyment of your Lily of the Nile. Beautiful.
    I have 2 of them, 1 white {just finishing blooming] & 1 blue/lavender {not blooming yet}. I would like to get the dark one. I think it's pretty too.

  8. This is also a longtime fave of mine. Very hardy plants, definitely worth it to plant them.

  9. Meems, your Lilies are absolutely beautiful! I'm glad yours are showing...and what a great show it is! I'm keeping my fingers crossed, along with you, for mine. NEVER apologize for going on and on about a worthy's our right as gardeners! :)

  10. Hi Meems! What a timely post---I just ordered (over the internet) 10 very small starter plants of this beautiful plant. Are they fast growing? Thanks for the wonderful ramblings- I always read every word.

    And, by the way, thanks to you, I now have over 200 caladiums in my bare-only-two-months-ago garden and they are flourishing and look stunning! Thank you for your inspirations---any chance you could post or email me some recent photos of your front lawn renovation? I'd love to see how it's doing this summer.

  11. I've seen so many beautiful Agapanthus blooming this year! All of your photos have made me decide this is a plant I have to have!

  12. Meems,

    As always, a fantastic post with gorgeous flowers. Have you considered writing a book? You truly have the gift of writing; there is always room for another Florida gardening book! I am going to give the Agapanthas another go next spring. I have not had as much success with them. Do you find snails an issue with them? I have had that problem with some lilies.

    I mentioned I ordered about 70 caladium bulbs after seeing one of your posts about your beauties. I decided to wait planting them in this heat now. Will they be OK in a cool, dry place until next spring?

  13. You can ramble all you want,Meems.It's your blog.
    Agapanthus is one thing I don't have.I must add those.
    Stunning photos as always.Kudos!

  14. I remember agapanthus growing in our garden in southern California as a child. It is a trademark plant there since many gardeners have discovered it's charms. Some gardeners also grow it here in the desert....I may need to try growing some too :-)

  15. Cameron,
    They are reported to do well in containers ~ especially if crowded together.

    I discovered one stray white one this year among all the blue. It is a mystery as I have no idea where it came from. The dark ones are stunning but the plant doesn't seem to be as hardy.

    A fellow admirer. You know first-hand what a great asset they are to the garden! Thank you so much for your comment.

    Oh, I do hope yours blooms for you. And since some of mine are still shooting up new buds I'm pretty sure it isn't too late.

    Not so sure I'd call them fast growing but they do seem to get established fairly easily. Yay for you on the caladiums. You will be hooked forever! I really should do a post to update with current photos on the front lawn renovation. I'll work on that one.

    Grower Jim,
    It's hard to believe there is a plant out there you don't already have. You will enjoy this one for its ornamental value.

    Thank you for your kind and generous comment. I have a gift for chatting (read:rambling)... not so sure about writing... but thank you. Snails have not been my problem with the lilies but the lubbers so like their leaves much to my dismay. Oh, I think you should go ahead and plant your caladiums. I just planted some yesterday and still have about 100 left to plant. It isn't too late! As a matter of fact they will pop out of the ground very quickly this time of year due to the warmth in the soil.

    But if you decide to store them yes, they should be kept in something ventilated like an onion sack and kept above 65 degrees.

    Oh yeah... that's right. But I do want readers to come back. :-0 I never knew you didn't have any. Get over here and dig one of these up!

    I have seen lots of pretty pictures of them from California. They might have the perfect environment for them. They might have the perfect environment for growing anything. :-) I'd be really curious if you added it to your desert garden.

  16. I enjoyed seeing and hearing ALL about your Lily of the Nile. I have a few that aren't blooming yet. I love them and am enjoying seeing them bloom just about everywhere I go. Hopefully, soon I will see them in my garden too.

  17. Have had little luck growing them in Charleston. I think our cold, wet winters are not great and keep them from performing well here.

  18. NanaK,
    Have you tried giving them a dose of bone meal? Or even some other balanced fertilizer would give them the extra boose they might need to flower. There's still time. One other thought... I do think there is a delicate balance between the amount of sunlight they recieve and placing them in shifting shade as well. I have a few that are in more shade than they started out due to trees growing bigger and they have not sent up any buds this year. {Always left to figure things out aren't we!}

    That makes sense as they can take Florida's occasional (and unpredictable)below freezing temps but they would not do well when below 30's persist.

  19. Your descriptions are wonderful as usual. My one lonely agapanthus needs friends. I'll look for Lily of the Nile also.

  20. Too funny. I thought Lily of the Nile was a completely different plant. I just reread the text and realized that it is another name for Agapanthus.

  21. Hi Meems...I totally agree with you about agapanthus. It's a real stunner and is, without a doubt, one of my favorites, too. I've noticed that my large variety comes in two different shades...a light purple and a darker purple. I never noticed it until this year. Have you noticed the same about yours? I have a smaller variety that is a dark purple on shorter stems. It's a beauty, too. All I can say is...ramble on to your heart's content!

  22. I first came across these wonderful plants when I lived for a year on the slopes of Haleakala on Maui. I would so love to grow them, but they do very badly in South Florida. Still, looking at your fabulous photos brings back very fond memories, so I thank you for that.

  23. Rhonda,
    An easy mistake with all the common names thrown at plants. Your lily of the nile bloomed so much sooner than mine. The more you have the longer you can enjoy the flower as they never shoot up all at once.

    The colors vary from lighter to darker but nothing like the deep purple you refer to. It is a completely different looking plant even with narrower leaves. I do love the hue on that one but it doesn't seem as hardy for some reason. That could just be me though.

    Aren't those kind of memories wonderful! Living in Hawaii sounds delightful and I imagine everything there to grow perfectly with its even climate year round. Agapanthus are reported to be hardy to zone 10 but I rarely see them that far south either. Maybe you could try them in a container and by creating its own little microclimate could place it out of the heat a bit. Just a thought.

  24. Agapanthus is one plant that I really miss seeing since I am no longer in Florida. It is so beautiful!


  25. Our Lily of the Niles are bloomong quite well here in West Central Florida. This year we seem to have multiple shades of purple. At first I thought something was wrong, but later realized that it is common for them to vary their color. In mass, they are wonderful.
    Thanks for the variety of photos showing all the stages of development.

  26. Meems, that's so breathtakingly lovely! No wonder its among your 'plants you cant live without'!
    I wonder whether it'll grow and bloom here. Does it bloom only in summer?

  27. Jake,
    Are you loving gardening in KY?

    They really do make a nice show the more of them there are. What I love is the way the greenery of the foliage fills in on the ground level almost as much as that flower.

    Oh, you would love this plant if it does grow there. Your climate seems like the right environment for them although if not available there it makes me wonder. I've not ever propogated from seed but I know some say they have. It only blooms for about 8 weeks and yes, only end of spring/beginning of summer.

  28. My favorite phase is when the tight flowerbuds start to emerge. I feel that the closed flowers are even more amazing than the open "pop poms"! I have these in a dry area of my front yard as well as a wet mound in the back. It seems that they do well in wet soil as long as the crow isn't sitting in water, and those plants always look the lushest anyways. The green anoles and treefrogs just love that clump!

  29. Wow - those are beautiful shots of your Lilies. They are among my very favorites. But sadly, my dog started digging them up in the back yard (guess she likes them, too) and now the deer have eaten the transplanted ones in the front yard down to the mulch! I can't win. Made me appreciate yours all the more! Looking forward to meeting you at Buffa10 next week!

  30. Hi Meems, Just stopping by to say HELLO --and see how you are. Looks like life and gardening in FL is still GREAT... Hope you have a wonderful 4th of July.

    I noticed that Marmie has stopped blogging...


  31. Your butterfly photographs are very beautiful! I'm planting more flowers to attract butterflies and pollinators, they're starting to come around. Have a happy 4th of July and a great weekend, God bless!

  32. Steve,
    I agree, I DO love the tightly grouped buds and the emergence of each tiny flower is a wonder to observe. They are fascinating specimens in each phase.

    Oh, I would be very sad about dogs damaging my agapanthus. Dealing with armadillos is discouraging enough but they don't dig them up ~~ they root up and then trample. No agapanthus so far though... plenty of other tender perennials. Yes, I am looking VERY forward to meeting everyone next week. Wow... it's getting close.

    Hello to you as well. Always good to see you. Marmee has been out of the country gallivanting. Likely she'll have lots to share about it... soonly. Thanks for missing her. Happy 4th to you.

    It is a joy to garden while butterflies are the creatures that keep us company. They have been plentiful this year. Glad you are entertaining them as well. Happy 4th to you, too and God bless.


Have a blessed day,

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