Origin and Habitat
Report from South Africa
In order to provide Agapanthus with the best possible care, it is helpful to get to know its country of origin. I have read several articles and would like to present some wellknown, interesting as well as some new facts to you,
Agapanthus is one of the most popular plants of South Africa. You can see it flower in many gardens in the summertime.
Agapanthus is easily cultivated. It is flowering regularly, and the great variety of foliage and the marvelous flowers have made them popular among gardeners all over the world. Their rise in popularity is due to their different uses, be it as a garden or container plant, or as a cut flower.
Agapanthus needs a lot of water, which it gets in the humid coastal regions of the Southern Cape. However, they grow just as well if they don't get a single drop of water except in the rainy season. They won't flower that successfully, unless they are being regularly watered before the flowering season. They flower all summer long. Some start early in October (on the southern hemisphere!) , others keep going until March, but the main flowering season is in December and January.
The most popular method to propagate Agapanthus is to divide large specimens.
The best time to divide it is just after flowering, at the beginning of March. The divided plants should be planted as quickly as possible to avoid the drying out of its roots. In general, the evergreens shoud be divided every 4th year. They flower best in the first year after division.
Very large specimens should be dug out whole and divided like that: two forks, held back to back, are stuck down in the middle of the rootstock and then are bent away from each other until the roots are split in two portions.
A different method is to cut the roots with a spade to receive smaller plants. You must see to it that each portion has enough root material and at least one strong shoot. The foliage should be cut back to half its length, the thick, fleshy roots can be reduced to two thirds.
Deciduous Agapanthus are most ideally divided in Spring, before it has started growing (August). They must as well be planted as quickly as possible. If it is necessary to ship them, they must be packed in moist material. After planting them, water them well, but then continue to water sparingly until the first leaves appear. As soon as the plant is well established and has started growing, water generously until it has finished flowering.
They love being solidly rooted and should only be divided every 6th year. They won't flower in the first season after division. Do not cut its leaves, but you may reduce the roots by half.
Deciduous Agapanthus may, if necessary, be divided in autumn. They must be watered well at first, then remain dry for the rest of the winter. This is a difficult season for nurseries to ship divided plants, and the new owners tend to water their plants too much, which makes them grow in a time when they should shed their leaves and rest. Some react to being waterlogged by rotting before their roots ever had the chance to get established and develop a solid rootstock.
Propagation by Seed
Agapanthus seeds are fertile only for a limited amount of time. Agapanthus is seeding itself in most garden soils. The seeds germinate well and can be sown as soon as they are ripe and conditions are favourable. Or they can be sown in pots with a good planting mixture in mid-August, and kept moist and shady. Fertile seeds germinate within 3 to 8 weeks. The seedlings should be kept in their pots until they are large enough to be transplanted outside, preferably when they are one year old. The deciduous species should be allowed to die back. Watering them once a month will keep the soil from getting bone dry. They may keep their foliage through the winter, die back in July and rest for only 1 to 2 months.
Evergreen seedlings usually flower in their third season, it may take another year with deciduous Agapanthus.
It must be understood that several Agapanthus growing together will eventually crossfertilize with each other and won't reproduce the parent plant. Only seeds gathered from controlled crossfertilization or from wild-growing Agapanthus will result in offspring which is an exact copy of the parent plant.
Agapanthus is able to withstand frost. Deciduous Agapanthus, which sheds its foliage and rests during the wintertime, is especially robust. It can cope with the coldest weather in South Africa. Although the foliage may turn yellow from several frosts, they remain unharmed and grow back in Spring.