Growing agapanthus from seeds

The Garden of Eaden

As beautiful as agapanthus are, and some of the darker blue hybrids are truly divine in my opinion, they can be expensive. In fact if you are planning on planting a drift of Agapanthus then you may find this to be prohibitively expensive. However, all is not lost as you can easily grow Agapanthus from seed for next to nothing.
Growing Agapanthus from seed

Dividing Agapanthus root ball

The easiest way to propagate Agapanthus is to divide and transplant the root clumps in April or May, but this would suggest that you would have Agapanthus already. If you are on a budget and do not have access to parent stock then growing Agapanthus from seed has to be your best bet.
Agapanthus seeds will germinate readily enough, but be aware that agapanthus seedlings may take two or three years before they reach flowering size.
You can either purchase your seed (that way you will know exactly what you are planting) or harvest your own Agapanthus seed in late autumn after the seed pods have turned brown.
Keep them in a dry location indoors until the pods split open, then remove the seeds and store in a cool, dry place until early spring.
Sow Agapanthus seeds during April in pots containing a good quality seed compost such as John Innes ‘Seed and Cutting’. You may wish to mix some horticultural grit or perlite to improve the drainage further at this point.
Sprinkle Agapanthus seeds on top of the soil and add 1/4 inch of the potting mixture on top. Add water slowly, taking care not to push the seeds too deeply into the soil.
Relocated you pots to a position that will receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day and a temperature of between 13-15 degrees Celsius. Water regularly, but only when the surface turns dry and not so much that the compost becomes waterlogged.
When they are large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into boxes. Transfer the young plants into 9 cm pots using a good quality potting compost such as John Innes ‘No 1’, and when they out grow these they can be further potted on into 12 cm pots.
Overwinter these under protection so that they are in a frost free environment and then they will be big enough to be planted outside in the following spring.

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Lily of the Nile Seeds – Agapanthus African Blue Lily Flower Seed

Flower Specifications

Season: Perennial

USDA Zones: 6 – 10

Height: 32 inches

Bloom Season: Summer

Bloom Color: Blue

Environment: Full sun

Soil Type: Well-drained, pH 5.8 – 7.2

Planting Directions

Temperature: 72 – 75F

Average Germ Time: 21 – 35 days

Light Required: Yes

Depth: Cover seeds lightly with soil

Sowing Rate: 3 seeds per plant

Moisture: Keep seed moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 18 inches

Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus Headbourne Blue) – Starting Lily of the Nile seeds is a great way to grow this lovely perennial! For colder climates, grow Agapanthus Lily of the Nile plants in containers so that they can be brought indoors to winter in a bright, sunny location. Lily of the Nile, also known as African Blue Lily, is a rare and very precious source of blue color for the summer garden. It has big, bloom-happy stalks that reach up to 36 inches in the air with lush foliage beneath. The big attraction is the 3 – 4 inch blooms in all shades of blue and lavender, and sometimes white. You will love this floriferous, easy-to-grow treasure!

Agapanthus Headbourne Blue is among the hardiest Lily of the Nile plants you can grow, with large, showy flowers blooming in July and August. They are perfect in large containers, along borders in the garden, and they make excellent year-round house plants with their foliage being as beautiful as their blooms! The African Lily flower is excellent for cutting, and they are long-lasting in the vase.

Growing Lily of the Nile seeds is easy to do, but it requires patience. When started from flower seed, Lily of the Nile will bloom after two or three years and then for many, many years to come. When sowing, cover the Lily of the Nile seeds lightly, keep humidity high, and maintain temperatures at 72 – 75F. Germination takes anywhere from 21 – 35 days. Continue to grow the young African Lily plants on in full sun (or very bright light indoors), spacing them 18 inches apart in the garden. After the blooms, attractive seedpods arise to continue the color show.

Agapanthus

In the first part of a two-part series Graham Gough looks at the cultivation and propagation of these dramatic plants.

The flower garden is not unlike a circus show with plants coming and going; thrilling us with their individual acts. One of the highlights comes in June when the arena seems brim-full of talented and colourful performers. But as the season wears on into July and August a certain blandness becomes apparent and so it is with some relish that we await the troupe of Agapanthus, or Africa lilies, to entertain us with their star performance.

Their qualities are manifold, the two most important being the strong vertical accent they provide, an important factor in any well-designed border, and, of course, their colour. Coming in a wide range of blue (and, as with nearly all blue flowers, white as well) they provide us with an essential contrast to the surfeit of yellow which seems to abound at this time of year.

The ease with which the gardener can grow these plants is, however, in contrast to the difficulty the botanist has in naming them, as taxonomically they are a very confused genus. With the liliaceous family having recently been reviewed, the genus Agapanthus now finds itself placed in the Alliaceae, together with Allium, Brodaeia, Ipheion, etc. In spite of what other characteristics it shares with the family, fortunately for propagators it does not have the same malodorous tendency as the main genus: the onion.

They are best described as perennial herbs (though to a certain extent this will depend on cultivation) with a short creeping rootstock and thick fleshy roots. The leaves are linear and sometimes arching. They can vary in colour between glaucous and deep green. The individual flowers are quite large and are carried on short stems in a many-flowered umbel, a single one of which can carry as many as 150 blooms. Their colour can vary from white through pale blue to a very deep, almost violet, blue. Even when flowering is over, the dying leaves can turn a wonderful buttercup colour and the dead flower heads provide sculptural winter decoration.

One has only to recall the number of gardens in which they can be seen growing to appreciate how tolerant they are of a wide range of soil, from chalk to clay, the pH of the soil seeming to be of little importance. Sadly we do not all possess the classic combination of a well-drained, moisture-retentive soil (does it really exist?), but provided that the soil is not cold or boggy during the winter months, success in growing the plants should not prove too difficult.

Growing them, however, is not the same as flowering them and for this they need the hot sun; and plenty of it. This may partly account for the reason why the British National Collection is held in Torbay, but that being said many fine cultivars have originated in Scotland and there is an impressive collection at Harlow Carr.

There are a number of species and cultivars in cultivation to choose from as a brief look through the indispensable Plant Finder shows only too clearly, but as with so many plants it pays, if possible, to see them flowering before making your choice. Selection from a catalogue is perfectly acceptable but nurserymen are not above eulogising when describing their plants!

Assuming you have purchased or been given the plant you require, ideally it would be best to plant it between April and September when the roots are fully active. Failing this optimum time it would be as well to overwinter the plant in a cold frame or greenhouse until the following year, ensuring that the pot does not freeze.

Coming from South Africa, Agapanthus receive summer rainfall and consequently enjoy moisture as much as the aforementioned sun. When planting, therefore, on a dry and hungry soil, such as chalk or sand, a liberal quantity of humus should be incorporated, preferably below the roots of the plant. A thick mulch of leaf mould will also help to improve the moisture retentive qualities of the soil as well as providing a certain amount of protection to the crowns during the winter months.

The stems of a great many forms, A. inapertus being an exception, lean towards the sun; a point to be borne in mind when siting the plants.

Should space be limited, Agapanthus are perfectly amenable to pot culture. Indeed, until relatively recent times they were treated as tender greenhouse subjects and only appeared in the open garden in pots that could be moved back inside for the winter. They are still frequently seen grown in this way as they make an extremely decorative feature, particularly on terraces where they can stand guard on either side of a doorway or at the top or bottom of a set of steps. As the containers should be taken inside during winter there is not too much problem over whether they should be frost-proof but they should still be very strong as the force of the enclosed root system is very great and can easily fracture a weak or cracked pot.

When using containers a John Innes No. 3 potting compost should provide a suitable growing medium. This should not be allowed to dry out during the growing season and will probably need watering at least once a day in the summer, particularly if they are in terracotta pots. Conversely, pots should not be over watered or allowed to freeze during the winter.

The two methods by which agapanthus can be propagated are seed and division. The latter is the simpler (but more strenuous!) of the two, and the only method by which clones can be increased. It is possible to prize or slice off pieces from large clumps with suitable tools such as forks or spades though to my mind this is a somewhat clumsy and wasteful method. A more satisfactory way of proceeding is to lift the clump and wash the roots in a bucket or under a running tap to remove the soil. Once this has been removed the propagator has much better access to the tight crown when he either pulls it apart (strong fingers required here) or carefully cuts it into suitable sized pieces using a sharp, pointed knife (here it is strong nerves that are needed!). The best time to carry out this procedure is when the plant is in active growth, namely from May onwards. There is a temptation to divide earlier than this but this can lead to heavy losses (discovered through bitter experience, alas) as the divisions tend to rot when inactively sitting in the cold, damp soil or compost.

Seed sowing offers the most exciting method of propagation as, generally speaking, no two seedlings will be alike. It was this factor that interested the Hon. Lewis Palmer (of Headboume hybrids fame) who grew, selected and distributed a large number of plants raised from seed. Whilst in South Africa he had seen a number of species in the Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden that were not in cultivation in Britain. On returning home he sent a request to the Garden for seed of the species he had seen, however, to his amazement he subsequently found that all the plants that he raised were hybrids. Thereafter he spent many years raising and selecting seedlings and a number of the clones he named still survive today. The best known were his Headboume hybrids which were instrumental in showing that many agapanthus could be safely over-wintered outside in Britain and other countries where the temperature is not too harsh (down -12C; 10F or down to zone 8).

Following Palmer’s lead, the gardener can expect some interesting surprises from plants raised from his own seed. Collecting seed is not difficult as long as an early winter does not set in before the seed is ready. The colour of the seed capsule should be carefully watched over a period of six weeks or so when it will change from pale green to a light brown as it dries. The seeds which are flat and black are dispersed when the capsule splits and at this point it should be collected. Fortunately, unless there is a strong wind the dispersal is not immediate and there should be ample time to collect it before it falls to the ground. Place the seed in open paper (not polythene) bags until it has dried and then store, now in sealed bags, in a cool, dry place until March or April. Space sow the sound seed on the surface of a gritty compost and cover with a thin layer of grit of more compost. Gentle heat at this stage will accelerate germination but it is by no means necessary. After germination, which should take place in a month or so, the pot should be kept in a cool greenhouse or fame.

The seedlings can be grown on in their pot and potted up individually in their second year. Alternatively they can be pricked out into small pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and then further potted on as their growth rate allows. Plants from the second method should be big enough to plant out in their second season and are likely to flower in the following year.

Graham Gough is a nurseryman with a growing reputation both for his knowledge and skills with plants.In the second part he considers many of the species, hybrids and cultivars in cultivation in the subject, whether living in Britain or abroad.

Source of article
Growing From Seed – Winter 1990-91 Vol. 5 Number 1
© The Seed Raising Journal from Thompson & Morgan

Agapanthus Seed Pods – Tips On Propagating Agapanthus By Seed

Agapanthus are gorgeous plants, but unfortunately, they carry a hefty price tag. The plants are easy to propagate by division if you have a mature plant, or you can plant agapanthus seed pods. Agapanthus seed propagation isn’t difficult, but keep in mind that the plants likely won’t produce blooms for at least two or three years. If this sounds like the way to go, read on to learn about propagating agapanthus by seed, step by step.

Harvesting Seeds of Agapanthus

Although you can purchase agapanthus seeds and you’ll know exactly what color to expect, it’s easy to harvest seeds of agapanthus when the pods turn from green to pale brown in late summer or autumn. Here’s how:

Once you have removed the agapanthus seed pods from the plant, place them in

a paper bag and store them in a dry location until the pods split open.

Remove the seeds from the split pods. Place the seeds in a sealed container and store them in a cool, dry place until spring.

Planting Agapanthus Seeds

Fill a planting tray with good quality, compost-based potting mix. Add a small amount of perlite to promote drainage. (Be sure the tray has drainage holes in the bottom.)

Sprinkle agapanthus seeds on the potting mix. Cover the seeds with no more than ¼-inch of the potting mix. Alternatively, cover the seeds with a thin layer of coarse sand or horticultural grit.

Water the trays slowly until the potting mix is lightly moist but not soaking wet. Place the tray in a warm area where the seeds will be exposed to sunlight for at least six hours per day.

Water lightly whenever the surface of the potting mix is dry. Be careful not to overwater. Move the trays to a cool, bright area after the seeds germinate, which usually takes about a month.

Transplant the seedlings into small, individual pots when the seedlings are big enough to handle. Cover the potting mix with a thin layer of sharp grit or coarse, clean sand.

Overwinter the seedlings in a greenhouse or other protected, frost-free area. Transplant the seedlings into larger pots as needed.

Plant the young agapanthus plants outdoors after all danger of frost has passed in spring.

How to Propagate Agapanthus by Seed

Agapanthus, also known as lily of the Nile, is an attractive perennial popular for its large and showy flower clusters. This flower comes in varieties that range from violet to almost white. Most gardeners propagate agapanthus by root division, but they can also be started from seed. It requires quite a bit of patience, but propagating agapanthus from seed is inexpensive and many gardeners find it rewarding to see the seeds they planted eventually become flowering beauties in their garden.

Step 1

Harvest agapanthus seeds in late fall after the seed pods become brown. Keep them in a dry location indoors until the pods split open. Remove the seeds and store in a cool, dry place until early spring.

Step 2

Choose the right location in your home to place the planting containers. Agapanthus seeds germinate more quickly in an area that receives at least six hours of full sun with temperatures that range from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Prepare planting containers four to six weeks before the last expected frost in your area. To ensure proper drainage, add a few pea-sized gravel pieces to the bottom of the containers before filling with a good quality potting soil. Make sure that the soil you choose does not have added fertilizer, as soil that is too rich will result in spindly seedlings.

Step 4

Sprinkle agapanthus seeds on top of the soil and add 1/4 inch of the potting mixture on top. Add water slowly, taking care not to push the seeds too deeply into the soil.

Step 5

Water regularly, whenever the top layer of soil begins to look dry.

Step 6

Thin the seedlings if they begin to crowd one another for space.

Step 7

Transplant the new agapanthus into a sunny, well-drained location once they have developed their first set of true leaves. Continue watering the plants regularly to make sure that they develop a healthy root system to see them through their first winter outdoors.

How to plant and grow agapanthus

With their strong stems and beautiful large heads, agapanthus make a structural and graceful addition to any border. I also love agapanthus in a series of pots down a path or around the edge of a terrace.

Planting

Soil and Site

Agapanthus grow best in well-drained soil, in a sunny site that receives sun for most of the day. On heavy soils, mix in grit when planting.

Spacing

30cm apart and with crowns 5cm (2in) below the ground.

In the garden

Agapanthus have fleshy roots and leaves and this can make them prone to frost damage. The deciduous varieties are hardiest, dying down in winter. Once they are established, they should all withstand most conditions.

Evergreen types are more tender and their leaves can be damaged by frosts. Therefore, a mulch of straw or fleece is advisable when young plants are establishing or extreme cold (below -5ºC) is forecast. Established clumps of evergreen Agapanthus can withstand -10ºC to -15ºC if the ground is well drained, but the number of flowers maybe reduced the following summer. Planting in beds against house walls can reduce the likeliness of frost damage.

For containers

Agapanthus are well suited to being grown in pots, especially the evergreen varieties which can then be brought into a conservatory or greenhouse for the winter. Use a loam based compost like John Innes No3 with slow release feed granules added for long term feed. Ensure that you feed with during the growing season.

Agapanthus doesn’t like to be potted into pots that are too spacious as this will encourage leaf growth rather than flower production. Ideally, they perform best where root development is restricted but the plants are well watered and fed.

Feed weekly or fortnightly with a balanced liquid feed during the growing season until flowers begin to show colour.

Although plants flower well in pots if the roots are constricted, they should not be allowed to become completely root bound and should be split and replanted in fresh compost if the roots become too congested, otherwise flowering will suffer.

Aftercare

It may take two or three years for plants to establish before flowering really takes off, but after this they will grow in to long-flowering clumps.

Agapanthus can be reluctant to flower if subjected to drought conditions after flowering. To ensure a good display the following year, keep plants moist until autumn after flowers start to fade, which will encourage the development of new flower buds.

Cut down spent flower stems unless you are drying them to use for decoration.

Mulch in autumn or cover the crown of the plant with straw or fleece to protect from cold. If clumps become too big, they can be lifted and split every four to five years.

Cut flowers

Cut the stems at a 45 degree angle with a sharp knife. Fill sterilised buckets with luke warm water and add flower food. Place the agapanthus in the buckets. Leave over night to condition before using. Place away from direct sun light, radiators and drafts. Keep the agapanthus in a cool place. Watch Sarah’s video guide for A Simple Arrangement of Agapanthus.

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