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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Agapanthus is a spectacular plant also known as Lily of the Nile. This amazing plant is not a true lily nor even from the Nile region, but it provides elegant, tropical foliage and an eye-popping bloom. Agapanthus is a heavy feeder and does best with organic compost worked into the soil at planting and fertilizer during its growing period. Knowing when to fertilize agapanthus and what formulas to use will ensure big bountiful blooms and healthy plants season after season.
Agapanthus plants are not reliably hardy below United States Department of Agriculture zone 8. In protected sites, they might survive the winter but a little special Agapanthus care and feeding is necessary in spring to start them off right.
Avoid fertilizing Agapanthus plants with high nitrogen fertilizers in spring, which will force new leafy growth at the expense of flowering. The best Agapanthus fertilizers will be fairly balanced, such as 10-10-10 or 5-5-5, or slightly higher in phosphorus than nitrogen.
Agapanthus grown outdoors will die back in winter. Spread a heavy mulch around the root zone to protect the plant from the cold. In cooler zones, dig up the bulbs and pot up the plant to grow indoors during winter. Plants outside that are dormant do not need fertilizer until they begin to sprout anew.
Indoor plants can be fertilized just as any houseplant with light dilutions of food from February until you move the plant outdoors. Outside plants should be fertilized with a mild dilution of food in early spring and again two months later. Suspend any fertilizer to either potted or in-ground plants by August.
The best fertilizer for Agapanthus should be an organic liquid formula or granular application. Make sure to water in the formula you choose when fertilizing Agapanthus plants. Soaking the area will ensure the food gets to the roots for quick uptake and will prevent excess salt in soil and potential root burn.
Granular formulas should be worked into the soil around the root zone at a rate of 1 to 1 ½ pounds per 50 square feet (680 gr. per 4.6 sq. m.). Liquid formulas should be diluted according to the product’s instructions.
Agapanthus doesn’t benefit from foliar feeds and it needs feeding just twice during the growing season. Some gardeners state they don’t even feed the plants, but this would be in cases where the soil is rich in organic amendments. Apply Agapanthus fertilizer in the coolest part of the day.
The bulbs of Agapanthus are not frost hardy and may need to be lifted or potted up for winter. Other care is minimal after feeding but consistent water is key to producing blooms. Divide the plant every fourth year in early spring.
Most pests are not a problem, but occasionally snails and slugs can plague the strappy leaves. The most common problem with Agapanthus is rot. This occurs in soils that are too heavy and don’t drain well. Amend soil with plenty of compost and some gritty matter before planting. Sometimes, rust can occur in the leaves. Water when the leaves can dry quickly and avoid overhead watering.
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Read more about Agapanthus
Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.
If you are looking for plants to lend a tropical touch to your landscape, look no further than the agapanthus or lily of the Nile. Despite its name, it is neither a lily nor native to the Nile region.
Every kid in my tiny elementary school thought I was a strange girl because I kept a jar of sand on my desk.
But it wasn’t just any sand. It was sand my dad had brought back from a trip to Honduras for me, to sate my obsession with turquoise-watered and white-sanded beaches.
I wanted nothing more than to take a dip in the clear, warm waters of the Caribbean.
When I was thirteen years old, my wish came true.
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I got to travel to Jamaica to see some of the places where my dad and grandparents had lived after leaving Cuba, their home country.
And I was also introduced to a thrilling array of plants and fruits I’d never seen before: slimy-sweet guineps, purple-white star apples, stately birds of paradise, and violet clumps of agapanthus.
The orchards and gardens of the island were unforgettable. Sadly for me, most of the gorgeous vegetation that flourishes in warm places like Jamaica fails to grow here in Alaska.
But many of these plants thrive in places where my family lives, like southern California and Arizona.
And if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 6-11, this guide can help you try your hand at growing graceful, cheery agapanthus flowers.
Altogether there are several hundred different varieties cultivated from different species such as Agapanthus africanus (African ornamental lily) or Agapanthus campanulatus (bell-shaped ornamental lily). Depending on the species of origin, the flowers are differently shaped and colored.
Here is a small selection of the most beautiful Agapanthus varieties:
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.
Also, what is the best fertilizer for agapanthus? The best Agapanthus fertilizers will be fairly balanced, such as 10-10-10 or 5-5-5, or slightly higher in phosphorus than nitrogen. Agapanthus grown outdoors will die back in winter.
Additionally, can agapanthus grow in pots?
Planting Agapanthus in Containers Agapanthus needs extremely well-draining, but somewhat water retentive, soil to survive. This may be hard to achieve in your garden, which is why growing agapanthus in pots is such a good idea. Instead of regular potting soil, choose a soil-based compost mix.
When should I repot agapanthus?
Late winter to early spring is the best time for repotting.
Watering. Keeping water up to our Agapanthus when first planted and first established is fairly important, especially in dry areas. If you water at least once a day during this period ( 2-3 weeks ) will ensure optimum growth.
Similarly, how often do you water a lily of the Nile? Watering Lily of the Nile Water needs for lily of the Nile vary according to the season. When the plant is actively growing, lily of the Nile needs water whenever the soil surface is dry to a depth of 1 inch in containers or around in-ground plants.
Keeping this in view, how do you take care of agapanthus?
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.
Why are the leaves on my agapanthus turning yellow?
The most common symptom of iron chlorosis -- a lack of iron, particularly in young growth -- is yellow leaves with green veins. If the soil is alkaline, with a pH of more than 7, it needs to be lowered to at least 6.5 for the agapanthus' roots to effectively use the iron present in the soil.
Agapanthus africanus: dark purple flowers up to 40-65 cm high during July - August.
Agapanthus praecox: This is probably the most common type. The leaves are up to 75 cm long. Flowers up to 120 cm tall. The light or dark blue flowers are very large. A. praecox 'Albus' has white flowers. Many cultivars and hybrids are available.
Agapanthus campanulatus: This variety is deciduous and loses all the foliage during the winter. The sky blue flowers are 50 cm high. There are also white varieties of this form.