the type of the jewelry-lilies (Agapanthus) covers ten types, among which both summer and evergreen representatives are to be found. The botanical generic name Agapanthus is composed of the Greek words “agape” (= love) and “anthos” (= flower), which is why the ornamental lilies are also called love flowers. The perennials belonging to the Alliaceae family originate from South Africa, where they grow in open grasslands and rocky areas. While the evergreen species are common in coastal, mild areas in South Africa, the deciduous species grow in the cooler regions of the country and are therefore somewhat more frost tolerant.
In the gardens of South Africa the species Agapanthus praecox subsp. orientalis is most common. The evergreen Agapanthus praecox is also one of our best-known species, although numerous varieties are now also available. Also popular with us are the species Agapanthus africanus (evergreen) and Agapanthus campanulatus (deciduous). While the evergreen species in the United States only thrive in tubs and have to be wintered indoors, deciduous species, especially the Headbourne hybrids, can be planted into the bed in mild regions.
Appearance and growth
From July to August, the Agapanthus with their loose blue-violet or white bell-shaped flowers, which stand in a roundish, terminal inflorescence on long stems above the leaves, are a beautiful eye-catcher in the flower pot or bed. But also its green leaf head with its smooth, arching overhanging leaves offers a pretty sight. The individual strap-shaped leaves can be between 10 and 100 centimeters long, depending on the species and variety. In addition to the green-leaved species, there are also varieties with striped or white-edged foliage. The growth height varies between 30 and 180 centimeters.
Location and substrate
Agapanthus thrive best in a sunny, wind-protected place, but also bloom quite well in semi-shade. When planting tubs, the pot should be filled with a drainage layer of expanded clay or gravel about ten centimeters high so that the fleshy roots do not rot. Add potting soil to the rest of the pot. Evergreen decorative lilies are suitable for balconies and terraces or also cold and temperate winter gardens, deciduous species thrive in nutrient-rich, permeable soil also in beds. When planting pots, make sure that the pot is only slightly larger than the root ball, as flowering will be reduced if the pots are too large. For this reason, you should only repot jewelry lilies if the old pot is clearly too small.
Especially during the flowering period, the potted plants must be watered abundantly. Make sure that no water remains in the coaster. Jewel lilies also need many nutrients. They should therefore be supplied with high-quality liquid pot plant fertilizer once a month from April to August. However, you should not use fertilizer more often, because it is said that Agapanthus blooms best when they are not too well off. If they are oversupplied with fertilizer, they form abundant leaves, but only few to no flowers at all.
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In principle, jewellery lilies do not have to be cut. Only remove the entire flower stalk from withered flowers. This not only improves the appearance, but also promotes the formation of new flowers and ensures that the decorative lilies do not cross with each other.
Evergreen decorative lilies are brought before the first frost into a bright winter quarter with temperatures between five and eight degrees Celsius. If it is too warm, they form fewer flower buds, if it is too dark, the leaves turn yellow. Just enough water is poured to prevent the earth from drying out. In April/May, after the last late frosts, they can go outside again. Planted deciduous species should be protected with some autumn leaves or bark mulch, especially in the first year after planting in winter.
Jewel lilies are usually multiplied by division. The best time to do this is in March and April, although you can share your plant all year round. In the case of decorative lilies in tub culture, pot the decorative lily for it and divide the dense root ball with a sharp spade or knife. Not too much time should elapse between stuffing and replanting the cuttings, as the roots must not dry out. Once the divided specimens are potted again, they first need a good sip of water. Then they only have to be poured lightly occasionally until the first new leaves have formed. Until the flowering time, you can then water more vigorously again. In the first year after dividing and repotting, flowering is somewhat sparser.
Splitting: is particularly recommended for plants or hybrids that have grown too big. You can also propagate your lilies via seeds, but lily species cross each other very easily and the offspring rarely corresponds optically to the mother plant when propagated by sowing.
Species and varieties
From a horticultural point of view, only three of the ten species are interesting: the deciduous Agapanthus campanulatus and the evergreen Agapanthus praecox and africanus. But there are also many recommendable hybrids on the market. When buying, be sure to check whether it is an evergreen or deciduous variety, as this property has a major influence on winter hardiness, as already described.
With their pretty white flowers, the varieties ‘Albus’ and ‘White Heaven’, for example, are a delight. While the former is deciduous and can therefore also be planted in the bed with a light winter protection, the latter is particularly suitable for the pot garden. White Heaven’ is also up to 100 centimeters taller than ‘Albus’, which only reaches about 80 centimeters.
Those who prefer the classic violet and blue flower colours can scoop from the full, because there are numerous varieties here, but some of them differ only slightly in the flower colour. The deciduous, blue flowering hybrid ‘Headbourne’, for example, is very robust and frost tolerant. Pretty dark violet-blue flowers present the deciduous ‘Midnight Dream’, which can also be planted as a contrast to white flowering lilies because of its dark flower colour. Another classic among the decorative lilies is the variety ‘Blue Giant’, which forms strong blue bell-shaped flowers and grows up to 120 centimeters high.
Diseases and pests
Jewel lilies are robust and have hardly any problems with plant diseases or pests. Only the flowers are occasionally attacked by aphids. In addition, jewellery lilies react sensitively to waterlogging. Therefore, ensure good drainage when planting specimens in tubs.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.