agapanthus

Agapanthus have flower-heads known as umbels, which are large and rounded and made up of many tubular flowers. Some, such as A. inapertus have pendulous flowers.

Agapanthus’ name comes from the Greek word ‘agape‘ which means love, and ‘anthos’ which means flower. The plants are native to South Africa and were brought to Europe in the seventeenth century by the first European settlers when they stopped in the cape to replenish their supplies. Agapanthus africanus was first introduced to Europe in 1679. Its origins in the cooler temperatures of the Western Cape, made it an ideal candidate for exporting.

In the late 1940s, the Hon. Lewis Palmer raised the Headbourne Hybrids, a reliable and hardy deciduous group of seedlings in his garden at Headbourne Worthy, Hampshire. Many hardy varieties were then bred from these.

 

Agapanthus dislike waterlogged, heavy soils or those that are prone to drying out during the growing season. Avoid rich soils, as they promote weak growth that is vulnerable to frost-damage. Ample water during the growing season is also essential to ensure success.

Tender varieties should be grown in pots in a soil-based compost, made up of two parts John Innes No 2 to one part composted bark chips. Overwinter them in a frost-free place indoors, such as a conservatory, porch or even a shed with a window. Keep the plants on the dry side.

Agapanthus looks particularly good when planted with lower-growing perennials, such as hardy geraniums. Alternatively, it can look fantastic growing among the silver foliage of Santolina chamaecyparissus or the Silvery-blue leaves of Melianthus major.

Containerised plants can be placed in front of other late summer plants, such as the violet-blue Ceratostigma willmottianum. Small varieties, such as Agapanthus ‘Lilliput’, make ideal companions for low growing tender perennials such as Helichrysum petiolare, Lotus berthelotii or Felicia amelloides. Larger agapanthus create on an exotic look when placed next to a backdrop of the huge leaves of palms and cordylines.

Problem solver

 

 

Although agapanthus suffer from few pests, mealy bug and red spider mite can be a problem when plants are overwintering. Severe infestations should be treated with a suitable insecticide.

Source: BBC Gardening

Growing tips

Agapanthus dislike waterlogged, heavy soils or those that are prone to drying out during the growing season. Avoid rich soils, as they promote weak growth that is vulnerable to frost-damage. Ample water during the growing season is also essential to ensure success.

Tender varieties should be grown in pots in a soil-based compost, made up of two parts John Innes No 2 to one part composted bark chips. Overwinter them in a frost-free place indoors, such as a conservatory, porch or even a shed with a window. Keep the plants on the dry side.

Planting companions

 

 

Agapanthus looks particularly good when planted with lower-growing perennials, such as hardy geraniums. Alternatively, it can look fantastic growing among the silver foliage of Santolina chamaecyparissus or the Silvery-blue leaves of Melianthus major.

Containerised plants can be placed in front of other late summer plants, such as the violet-blue Ceratostigma willmottianum. Small varieties, such as Agapanthus ‘Lilliput’, make ideal companions for low growing tender perennials such as Helichrysum petiolare, Lotus berthelotii or Felicia amelloides. Larger agapanthus create on an exotic look when placed next to a backdrop of the huge leaves of palms and cordylines.

Problem solver

 

 

Although agapanthus suffer from few pests, mealy bug and red spider mite can be a problem when plants are overwintering. Severe infestations should be treated with a suitable insecticide.

Source: BBC Gardening http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plantprofile_agapanthus.shtml

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