These wonderful plants are blooming machines, which you can think of as essentially the tropical equivalent of the daylily. A landscape staple in warm-winter regions, agapanthus is a low-maintenance perennial that produces colorful clusters of blue or white trumpet-shape flowers in summer and fall. Agapanthus has strappy, green leaves add texture to beds, borders, and containers, too.
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Agapanthus grows and spreads by fleshy rhizomes that also act as a type of storage root. This means the plant can retain nutrients within its roots and be easily divided to create more plants.
Agapanthus foliage is rather unobtrusive and varies depending on the species. Many varieties have foliage that is small and grasslike. Others have larger, straplike foliage (much like daylilies). Several varieties of agapanthus are available with variegated foliage that is green with a cream or white stripe down the edge, in contrast with the plant's rich blue flowers.
Blossoms of the agapanthus appear in clusters at the tips of blooming stems. As these come up from the foliage, the blue blooms are held within a tight green bract to protect them from damage. As they mature, the bracts pull back to reveal many small blue buds. These then open in succession, starting at the bottom and working their way up.
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The most common and popular flower color of agapanthus is blue (actually they come in several shades of the color, with most being light or medium blue with streaks of deeper blue down the petals). Agapanthus can also be found in white, and a few varieties have both white and blue in the same flowers.
Agapanthus Care Must-Knows
Many agapanthus species are evergreen in tropical climates. The non-evergreen types require a little more protection and warmth during the cool season. As the fall begins to come around, you can initiate their dormancy by withholding some water. The more tender evergreen varieties should be moved into a frost-free environment, like a greenhouse or even near a bright window in a home. Others can be left out and sparsely watered until spring comes along.
Agapanthus appreciate regular watering and don't like to dry out for too long. Make sure to be consistent with watering to prevent any stress from hindering future blooms, especially just after completing a bloom cycle. Additionally, since agapanthus are frequent bloomers, it's a good idea to give them a regular dose of fertilizer to keep the blooms going all season long.
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Tips for Deadheading & Dividing Plants
A good tip for proper care of potted agapanthus is to divide the plants on a regular basis. In general, agapanthus don't mind being snugly planted in a pot. However, they do appreciate being divided every few years to encourage new growth and increase blooms.
For agapanthus grown in the ground, it isn't necessary to divide the plant regularly. But do be sure to remove faded blossoms from the stem. This will encourage new growth and prevent the plant from wasting energy on seed production.
More Varieties of Agapanthus
Agapanthus africanus is a common type with blue flowers that bloom in late summer and early fall. It grows 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Zones 9-10
'Headbourne Hybrids' Agapanthus
Agapanthus 'Headbourne Hybrids' are a popular strain that bear flowers in shades of violet blue. They grow 4 feet tall. Zones 7-10
'Peter Pan' Agapanthus
Agapanthus 'Peter Pan' is a dwarf selection that offers light blue flowers throughout the summer. It grows 1 foot tall and wide. Zones 8-11
Agapanthus Companion Plants
The leaves look like chives, and if you walk by a planting of this South African native bulb and brush the foliage, you'll catch a whiff of garlic. The beautiful clusters of lavender-pink flowers have a sweet fragrance, similar to hyacinth perfume. They open up on tall stems from early summer until late fall. Noted for its drought tolerance, society garlic has become a staple in Southern California landscapes.
Make a bold statement in your garden with kangaroo paw. This unusual perennial comes from Australia and bears strappy green leaves and upright spikes of fuzzy flowers in radioactively brilliant colors. The blooms last a long time and make great cut flowers.
Bird of Paradise
Add tropical flair to your garden or home with stunning bird of paradise flowers. Named for their resemblance to a flamboyant tropical bird, the long-lasting blooms appear in shades of orange and white. Outdoors, they are a favorite in tropical landscapes because the plants are practically carefree—just give them a sunny spot with well-drained soil and you'll be rewarded with the exotic blooms. Indoors, they need a bright spot in order to produce flowers. Many gardeners take bird of paradise outside for the summer so the plants can soak up the sun. Re-pot or divide the plants every two to three years if you grow them in a container to prevent them from becoming root-bound.