When to plant agapanthus

How To Plant Agapanthus And Agapanthus Care

The Agapanthus, commonly referred to as the Lily-of-the-Nile or the African lily plant, is an herbaceous perennial from the Amaryllidaceae family that is hardy in USDA Zones 7-11. This South African native beauty displays large masses of striking blue or white flowers atop a tall and slender stalk. Agapanthus plants reach up to 4 feet at maturity and bloom from June through August.

How to Plant Agapanthus

Agapanthus planting is best done during the fall or winter in warm climates. Agapanthus makes a lovely back border or focal plant due to its height, beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers and leaf texture. For a dramatic effect, plant a large grouping throughout a sunny garden spot. Agapanthus flowers can also be used in container plantings in cooler regions.

Growing Agapanthus requires a sunny to

partly shady location and regular water. Mulching is helpful to retain moisture with new plants set about 1 to 2 inches apart.

While it is very tolerant to a wide variety of soil conditions, they do enjoy some rich compost or organic matter added during your agapanthus planting.

Agapanthus Care

Caring for an Agapanthus plant is easy in warmer regions. Once planted, this beautiful plant requires very little upkeep.

To maintain health and performance, divide the plant once every three years. Be sure to get as much of the root as possible when dividing and only divide after the plant has bloomed. A potted Agapanthus does best when it is mildly root-bound.

For those in cooler climates, potted Agapanthus plants must be brought indoors for the winter. Water the plant only once a month or so and place back outdoors after the threat of frost has passed.

This easy to grow perennial is a favorite of both southern and northern gardeners alike who appreciate how easy it is to care for and admire the remarkable flower display. As an added bonus, Agapanthus flowers make an eye-catching addition to any cut flower arrangement and the seed heads can be dried for year round enjoyment.

Warning: Extreme caution should be taken when handling the Apaganthus plant, as it is poisonous if ingested and a skin irritant. Those with sensitive skin should wear gloves when handling the plant.

How to Care for A Lily of the Nile

Lily of the Nile, also known as Agapanthus or the African Blue Lily, is a genus of perennial flowering plants originating from South Africa. The name comes from the Greek words “agape,” meaning love, and “anthus,” meaning flower.

This genus consists of about 10 different species. Agapanthus plants may have 20 to 100 flowers depending on the variety, and from May through June, they produce beautiful clusters of blue, white, or violet-blue flowers that resemble lilies.
Depending on the species, they grow to be 2 feet high and 2-4 feet wide. There are both evergreen and deciduous types. They flourish in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11.
These plants are easy to maintain and are very popular because of their hardiness and attractiveness. Follow these steps to grow your own African Blue Lily and keep it in beautiful condition.

Step 1 – Choose a Healthy Specimen

Select a healthy looking plant from the nursery. Avoid plants that look dull and those that do not have many flowers or buds.

Step 2 – Find a Good Planting Location

An Agapanthus should only be planted in areas with full sun. Unless your climate is exceptionally hot, the plants need direct sunlight and plenty of space to thrive. If you are unsure of how your area’s sun exposure will affect the plant, keep in mind that this plant grows very well in containers.

If you choose to use a container, you will be free to experiment with full sun, partial sun, and shaded areas as you grow. Plus if the plant ever becomes too large and cramped, you will be able to move it to a more open area.

Step 3 – Prepare Your Soil

After choosing the planting spot, dig a hole that is not too deep. Mix compost or fertilizer with the dug-out soil. The soil must be rich and well-drained. This plant prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil, with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
Tip: Since proper drainage is important for the Lily of the Nile, consider adding a scoop of sand to the soil.

Step 4 – Planting

When transferring from a container, try to place the roots at the same depth as they were at in the pot or container. Even when planting directly, the roots should be placed no more than 1 foot from the soil surface. Once you’ve positioned your roots, fill the soil back, and fix the plant in place.

Tip: If you are growing more than one plant at a time, space the rhizomes (thick bulb-like roots that grow underground) about 8 inches apart with the pointy ends facing up.

Step 5 – Mulching and Watering

Apply a couple of inches of organic mulch around the plant. Water the plant thoroughly, taking care not to flood the roots since the rhizomes can rot easily when things are too wet. You want to make sure the soil is always moist but not soaked. Keep an eye out for yellow-tipped leaves, as this is an indicator that you’re overwatering.

Weekly watering is recommended, but if the summers and winters are unseasonably harsh, feel free to adjust accordingly.

Step 6 – Fertilization

During the growing stage, it is beneficial to fertilize the plant twice a month. For established plants, fertilizing is only required twice a year, once in the beginning of spring and again towards the end of fall. Apply a formula that provides equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, such as a 15-15-15 preparation.

Step 7 – Pruning

Every spring, prune the plant by removing any dead foliage and stems. Remove flowers that have bloomed and are beginning to wilt. If you regularly deadhead the flowers, you will see an abundant growth of newer flowers.

Clumps can be divided every three to five years by splitting the root ball in late summer or early fall. It will then take about a year for newly divided plants to re-establish themselves.


Protect your African Blue Lily from frost in colder climates. If you are growing the plant is a pot or container, you can bring it indoors and place it under fluorescent lights or keep it in a warm greenhouse. If the plant is in your backyard, you must mulch the roots to protect them during winter.


Lily of the Nile is generally resistant to most pests and diseases. However, they may become infested with snails, thrips, mealy bugs, or by certain fungi. Be watchful of the plant and spray an appropriate fungicide or pesticide when necessary. Snails can devour the stems of the plant, causing considerable harm. You can remove them by hand, or use some kind of bait to get rid of them.

Lily of the Nile, with latin name Agapanthus, is a marvelous perennial that blooms from spring to summer, producing magnificent floral scapes.

Lily of the Nile key facts

Name – Agapanthus
Family – Liliaceae (lily family)
Type – perennial

Height – 24 to 40 inches (0.6 to 1 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary, well drained

Flowering – June to September

This is a plant that you must absolutely have if the climate is mild enough.

However, if summer is the time for majestic blooms, winter requires specific care and attention…

  • Read also : The beautiful umbels of the Lily of the Nile

Planting lily of the Nile

Season for planting lily of the Nile

For regions with rather cool winters, plant your lily of the Nile in spring, for them to harden before the first winter.

Elsewhere, for mild-wintered climates, lily of the Nile can be planted in fall.

If you have purchased your Agapanthus in pots, you can plant them all year round, except during frost and heat spells.

Best place for Lily of the Nile

If you live in a region where winter freezes a lot, grow your plants in in pots to be able to protect your Lily of the Nile from freezing cold.

  • Lily of the Nile can cope with short, mild frost but cannot survive harsh winters.
  • Full sun exposure is needed to produce beautiful flowers.

How to plant Lily of the Nile

Lily of the Nile rhizomes must not be planted in too deep a hole.

  • Dig a hole as deep as the rhizome is thick, adding about an inch (a couple centimeters).
  • Cover the rhizome without pressing the soil down too much.
  • Adding compost upon planting will enhance growth and bloom of your lilies of the Nile

Propagating Lily of the Nile

The easiest and most common technique to propagate Lilies of the Nile is rhizome division in spring.

Indeed, the vegetation phase is when you will get the highest propagation success rates for Agapanthus.

  • Delicately unearth the rhizome.
  • Divide the rhizome in 2 or 3 parts.
  • Replant each part following the above-mentioned technique described in the paragraph related to planting.

It is also possible to propagate Lily of the Nile through seed but this technique is slower and more challenging.

Pruning and caring for Lily of the Nile

When you notice wilted flowers, cut the floral scapes as short as possible to avoid needlessly draining the plant.

Lilies of the Nile in fall and winter

Lily of the Nile are plants that cannot survive harsh colds, and so must be grown in areas where winter is mild.

If winter is mild, leave your plant in place without removing its leaves.

What should be done if it freezes in your area?

If your lily of the Nile are grown in pots, it is best to bring them indoors, in a cool, well-lit room where it never freezes.

If your plants are directly in the ground, you must cut the leaves before the first frost spells and cover the stump with thick mulch. You can use dried leaves, for example, or any other mulch.

All there is to know about growing lily of the Nile

This beautiful perennial produces long stems donning magnificent blue flowers that are around 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) across.

This magnificent floral scape can reach over 3 feet (1 meter) long.

In the backdrop of flower beds is where they will best be noticed, but they will be very appealing in pots or garden boxes on a terrace.

You can also create beautiful Lily of the Nile beds with only that flower throughout the bed, in the center of your garden or along a walkway.

They need heat and sun to produce beautiful flowers.

Species and varieties of Lily of the Nile

There are several species and varieties within the Agapanthus genus, which differ in the white or blue colors of their flowers. One lily of the Nile variety that is hardier than the rest is the ‘Blue triumphator’.

Here are some interesting Lily of the Nile varieties that we have selected for you:

Blue-flowered Lily of the Nile

  • Agapanthus ‘intermedius’
  • Agapanthus ‘donau’
  • Agapanthus ‘cobalt blue’
  • Agapanthus ‘lavender blue’

White-flowered Lily of the Nile

  • Agapanthus ‘polar ice’
  • Agapanthus ‘sea coral’
  • Agapanthus ‘snow ball’
  • Agapanthus ‘donau’

Smart tip about Lilies of the Nile

To enhance blooming, add granulated organic fertilizer in spring!

  • Read also: Propagating perennials through crown division

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Full agapanthus bloom by Martina under license
First Lily-of-the-Nile buds by Suzy Johns under license
Almost there Agapanthus by Petra Keller-Gloor under license

More Information About Agapanthus

Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) is a South African, bulb producing amaryllid genus well-known for being a great summer-flowering, butterfly-attracting perennial in warm climates. Our goal is to find cold-hardy agapanthus plants to expand their use as garden perennials northward…so far, we have trialed 93 different agapanthus plants. We’ve killed several, found others that don’t flower in cold climates, and discovered a special few agapanthus that have been extraordinary garden performers in our Zone 7b climate.

Plant Delights currently offers the best agapanthus bulbs from our cold trials for both perennial gardens and summer color bowls. Agapanthus grows into clumps of strappy leaves which are topped in summer with large, exotic, spherical flower heads atop spikes that range from 8″ tall to 3′ or taller. Agapanthus flowers can range from dark purple to steel blue to white, including a few bicolor selections…blue agapanthus being the most popular.

How to Grow Agapanthus Plants

Siting & Uses: They are tough, low-maintenance, easy-to-grow plants which makes them perfect for most gardens. They are also heat, drought, and salt tolerant and do well in coastal gardens and Mediterranean climates. Agapanthus also works well in containers and they make great cut flowers.

Sun: You’ll need full sun in order to get a good crop of flowers.

Water: Although agapanthus plants are drought-tolerant, they flower much better when the soil is kept moist during the summer months and into early autumn. Too much water during the winter will rot them.

Soil: Well-drained soils are needed to prevent root rot. Most agapanthus do not care what the pH is. (Except A. africanus which prefers acid).

Fertilizer: You’ll get the best flower displays if you fertilize well in the spring and early summer.

Wildlife: Agapanthus are great at attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to the garden.

When to Plant: Spring or Fall. Plant the bulbs at least 2″ deep…deeper if you are pushing the cold tolerance of the plant.

Clean up: Spent flower heads should be deadheaded to promote the formation of new buds and also to prevent seeding around which is a problem in milder climates like England or New Zealand. After the first few frosts you can remove the dead leaves to make things look tidy.

Winter Care: Some gardeners like to provide a winter cover of mulch, hay, etc., as a blanket to protect against winter cold and minimize winter damage.

Pests: Few. You may notice winter cold damage in the spring. Streaky leaves or flowers are a sign of a virus. The plant will need to be discarded to prevent it spreading.

My Agapanthus does not bloom well. What do I do?: Your plant needs one or more of the following: More sun, More water, Re-potting into a larger pot. Or it may have been recently divided and is still filling out. A newly planted Agapanthus may take 2-3 years before flowering at its peak.

Agapanthus Blue

No shipping process is without a problem from time to time. On rare occasions some plants may experience some of the following during their transit: drooping, minor leaf-loss and/or minimal yellowing/discoloration, minor limb damage, etc. These instances are quite rare, but can happen when shipping plants in boxes.

Plants normally recover within a few weeks after planting. If a damaged box has injured your plant on the inside, please notify us within 5 days of receiving you package(s) by emailing us a photograph of the damage.

We always do our very best to ensure that your plants are packed and shipped in the safest, gentlest and most effective way possible.

Will my plants and trees look like the photographs?

Absolutely! Unlike other online nurseries, our photos are of actual plants and trees we’ve grown here, on our family operated nursery.

Growing our own plants and trees helps to ensure we ship you the best quality plants that are free of pests and diseases.

Your plants and trees may however not ship with flowers on them, like the photographs. This all depends on the time of year you buy your plant or tree. Crape Myrtle trees, for example, only bloom during the summer months, so if you purchase one during the spring or fall, they would ship without flowers. Once planted, your plants will grow and thrive giving you flowers for many years to come!

Pot Sizes

Pot sizes (commonly referred to in gallons) are shipped in the same size nursery trade pots which may vary in actual volume. Some plants may have been at the approximate pot size listed, but require excess dirt to be removed so that you will not be paying any additional shipping costs. This doesn’t happen very often though.

Shipping Fees

Our shipping charges are based on the value of your order. Please use the chart below to see what your shipping charge will be.

Learn How To Plant, Care and Grow Bountiful Agapanthus

Native to South Africa, Agapanthus (African Lily) are such flamboyant and exotic-looking perennials that it is impossible not to love them! Easy to grow, pest and disease free, they feature showy, rounded clusters of brightly colored flowers on stiff, upright stalks atop clumps of beautiful, long, shiny leaves. However, some basic rules need to be followed to enjoy their splendid flowers.

1. Select The Right Site

  • Agapanthus thrive in full sun and need 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. However, they do better in partial shade in hot climate areas.
  • Agapanthus perform best in fertile, moist and well-drained soil. They show no preference for pH, except Agapanthus africanus which prefers an acid soil.
  • Fully hardy to half hardy, Agapanthus are hardy in zones 8-11 and some cultivars can be grown in zone 7. Not sure about your growing zone? Check here

‘Peter Pan’

africanus ‘Albus’


2. Planting Your Agapanthus Rhizomes

  • Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to 50ºF (10ºC).
  • Dig a hole and plant your rhizomes 2 in. deep (5 cm) and 12-18 in. apart (30-45 cm). That leaves them enough room to grow, yet close enough to help each other stay upright
  • Agapanthus plants are heavy feeders and do best with organic compost worked into the soil at planting.
  • Set the Agapanthus rhizomes with the pointed ends facing up. Cover with soil and water as needed. Protect in colder areas with a heavy mulch around the root zone to protect the plant from the cold.

‘Arctic Star’


‘Northern Star’

3. Aftercare

  • Water regularly during the growing season to ensure success.
  • Feed twice during the growing season – once in early spring and again two months later. Avoid fertilizing your Agapanthus plants with high nitrogen fertilizers – use instead a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 5-5-5, or slightly higher in phosphorus than nitrogen. Suspend any fertilizer to either potted or in-ground plants by late summer.
  • Removing the faded blossoms will promote new growth and prevent the plant from wasting energy on seed production. It will also stop seeds from setting in your garden.
  • After blooming is over, keep the leaves so that the plant can put its energy back into its bulb for next summer’s blooming. The leaves give an energy charge to the bulb through photosynthesis and for this they need to keep their leaves!
  • When the leaves begin to yellow, withhold water. Remove the foliage when it withers and dies back.
  • Agapanthus are easy to propagate by division – between spring and early summer, or in early fall, after plants have finished flowering. Agapanthus species can be propagated by seed.
  • Whether grown in a container or in the ground, Agapanthus should be divided every 4 years or so—deciduous types in March, just before they start growing, and evergreen types immediately after flowering.
  • Agapanthus have few problems. The common reasons for Agapanthus to fail to flower are too much shade, cold weather or lack of winter protection.

‘Silver Moon’


‘Queen Mum’

4. Overwintering

  • Most Agapanthus plants are winter hardy in zones 8-11, so in these climate zones the rhizomes can be left right in the ground. Some cultivars are hardy in zone 7.
  • If you live in a colder area and you want to save your rhizomes for next summer, you may dig them up before the first frost.
  • Evergreen Agapanthus should be brought inside and kept in a very bright location with temperatures in the 55-60°F range (12-15°C). During the winter, water lightly.
  • Deciduous Agapanthus should be allowed to rest for the winter. Brush off the soil and allow them to dry out for a few days in a dry, warm location. Then store them wrapped in newspaper in a cool, dark location at approximately 40-50°F (4-10°C). Another alternative is to pot them up to grow indoors during winter. Keep them in a cool location, approximately 40-50°F (4-10°C), and since they have no foliage, they do not need special light. The soil should be kept just barely moist, meaning not allowed to go dry as a bone, until they resume active growth in the spring.
  • Indoor plants can be fertilized just as any houseplant with light dilutions of food from February until you move the plant outdoors.

Agapanthus Care

Agapanthus is the flower of summer and its tall blue, mauve or white heads grace gardens across Sydney. Agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox subsp. orientalis) is a perennial from South Africa and it’s a survivor from its thick, fleshy roots to its luxuriant green strappy leaves.

It is a top choice to plant as a fire retardant plant. Although these plants burn in a fire, they can help slow its progress and recover quickly after a blaze. To use them as a firebreak, plant them thickly without organic mulch. Use them as a border to mown grass or under deciduous trees. The thick roots also bind soil and reduce erosion.

Growing agapanthus

Give agapanthus lots of sun, extra water when its really hot and dry and they’ll bloom abundantly. Agapanthus plants that fail to flower are usually growing in too much shade.

While they grow with little care, agapanthus plants respond to an application of fertiliser or composted manure in spring.

Despite loving sun exposure, agapanthus plants are susceptible to heat damage in extreme summer temperatures, especially where heatwaves push temperatures over 45°C. They are more likely to be burnt by heat when the plants are already drought stressed or if they are growing in a hot spot such as against a metal fence or wall or beside a hot path or driveway. Although leaves and flowers are damaged in high temperatures, they recover sending out new growth when conditions improve. Remove damaged leaves and flowers to improve the appearance of the clump.

Designer ideas

The flowers are bird attracting and long lasting. They can be picked to use in a vase indoors.

Agapanthus can be used to tie a garden together. They lend themselves to mass planting as a border. Who hasn’t seen a row of agapanthus along a driveway or edging a garden or pool fence and not admired them?

As these plants put on their best flower show in summer they also make a smart choice for planting around outdoor entertaining areas such as patios and swimming pools.

Smaller varieties can be used to form a strappy contrast to more formal clipped hedges. Use a row of dwarf white or blue agapanthus in front of stepped hedges of gardenia, murraya or lillypilly.

Avoiding weediness

Agapanthus grows by seed or by division of the clump and both can lead to weediness. Where weeds have spread it is usually due to the dumping of unwanted plants into bushland areas. Once established, agapanthus spread slowly by seed. Seeds are not spread by birds but fall around the clump and may drift down hill. To restrict the spread of these plants from your garden, remove the stalks as flowers finish and don’t dump unwanted plants where they can spread.

Removing a mass of agapanthus stalks sounds like an onerous task, particularly for a plant that’s often selected for its low maintenance, but with sharp secateurs and wheelie bin or other container, it’s a job that doesn’t take long. Cut at the base of the stem. The stems can be chopped up and added to the compost or used as mulch. If more plants are desired around the existing clump and weediness is not a problem, leave some of the seeds to mature and grow.

As well as removing the spent heads to stop weediness, removing spent flower stalks also tidies the clump, returning agapanthus to their neat and orderly appearance.

Pest problems

Clumps may harbour snails or slugs. Occasionally, foliage is attacked in summer or autumn by lily caterpillars. Squash caterpillars or apply an insecticide to control caterpillars.

Plants that are stressed (for example by growing in too much shade or by dry conditions), can be attacked by mealy bugs. Mealy bugs are hard to control as they colonise the roots as well as inside the foliage. Apply a registered pesticide or remove plants.

These tips will describe how to grow Agapanthus successfully and help keep your Agapanthus plants looking great.

When your plants arrive home – water if necessary, leaving them to settle for a couple of days. We recommend 9cm pots are potted up before planting outside. Larger Agapanthus may be planted in borders or potted into larger containers. We do not recommend planting if the weather is frosty.

Planting in the Garden – Agapanthus thrive in well-drained soil, in a sunny site that receives sun for most of the day. In heavy soils, mix in grit when planting to improve drainage, otherwise follow the instructions on the reverse of the label. Dwarf plants can be planted 30cm apart and larger forms 60cm.

Hardiness – Agapanthus have fleshy roots and leaves which can make them prone to frost damage. The hardiest of Agapanthus are deciduous, dying down in winter. They will survive most UK conditions once they are established.

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.

Growing in pots – Evergreen cultivars are especially suited to being grown in pots, allowing them to be brought into a conservatory or greenhouse for the winter. Use a loam based compost like John Innes No3 with slow release Miracle Grow granules added for long term feed. Liquid feed with Miracle Grow All Purpose Feed or Phostrogen during the growing season. Overcrowded plants should be re-potted in spring.

Feeding – Agapanthus are quite hungry feeders. For best results apply a top dressing of our Agapanthus Plant Food to the surface of the soil. It is best applied first in March, then repeated in May and August. Alternatively, liquid feed plants in containers with Phostrogen liquid feed during the growing season or tomato feed which contains high levels of Potash. A sprinkle of Sulphate of potash can also encourage flower quantity and colour. Avoid giving plants too much Nitrogen or you will encourage lush leaves at the expense of flowers.

Pruning – Flower stems should be cut down after flowering, unless you wish to
leave them for winter structure in the garden, or spray them silver or gold once dried as Christmas decorations.

Dividing and encouraging flowering – Plants that don’t flower or are over-crowded may be divided in late summer after flowering or in early spring. Large plants maybe pulled apart using 2 forks after lifting from the ground or removing from the pot. Agapanthus doesn’t like to be re-potted into pots that are too spacious as this will encourage leaf growth rather than flower production. Ideal conditions are provided where root development is restricted but the plants are well watered and fed through the growing season. The belief that flower production is maximised when the roots are climbing out of the pot is not correct.

Why won’t my Agapanthus flower? – It is a myth that Agapanthus must be grown with their roots heavily congested-they love water and are hungry feeders so with no soil in the pot it’s hard to give this to them. If your plant is flowering do nothing! If not-

  1. Give it maximum sun
  2. Feed it high potash fertiliser such as Fairweather’s Agapanthus feed
  3. If it is evergreen ensure that it does not get frosted in winter – buds are formed in the autumn
  4. Divide if it is over congested
  5. Buy a new one!

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