Common Agapanthus

Common Agapanthus [E] Gewone agapanthus [A] uBani [Z]

ALLIACEAE Agapanthus praecox

Type: Groundcover.
Flower: Blue. November until February.
Fruit: Green. November until February.
Leaves: Evergreen with Green leaves.

Biological Characteristics

Growth rate: Medium.
Maximum height: 0.50m.

Dormancy season: 
Water requirement: Water when soil dry.

Soil Requirements
Drainage requirements: 
Free Draining.
Preferred growing medium: Commercial Pinebark based.
Preferred soil type: organic material.

Habits: Bulb.
Habitats: Coastal Forest, Escarpment Forest.
Propagation methods: Seed (Hard), Vegetative (Division).
Sun Requirements: Sun.
References:Duncan, Graham “Grow Agapanthus” SANBI (1998), Page 11
Joffe, Pitta “Creative Gardening with Indigenous plants, A South African
Guide” Briza (2001), Page 279
Pooley, Elsa “A Field Guide to Wild Flowers KwaZulu-Natal and the
Eastern Region” Natal Flora Publication Trust (1998), Page 450

About the Plant

This is one South African plant that needs no introduction as it is grown in sub-tropical climates throughout the world. This species comes originally form the Eastern Cape and is now found in one form or another in gardens all over the country. It is a large strap-leafed plant that gets to a height of about 40 cm and the pale green leaves will reach a length at best of about half a metre. It forms dense clumps that sucker freely, these suckers are one of the ways that you would propagate this herbaceous bulb. The other method of propagation is from the papery black seeds that should be sown in a suitable seed mixture as soon as the capsules split. The roots are about as thick as a pencil and fleshy in texture. They radiate out from the base of the stem. If you dig the plants up and chop off the leaves they take on the appearance of that very familiar vegetable the leek. The flowers are produced in the summer just about Christmas time. The flower stalk can easily reach a metre long on a healthy plant an as many as a hundred individual flowers are produced from a single stalk. The flowers are all clustered around the end of the stalk forming a dense head of blue. There are many horticultural variations of the colours and there is a very attractive white flowered form. The plants are best used as bedding plants where hundreds of them make a very dramatic statement when they are in flower. The most effective planting I’ve ever seen is in Cape Town along their freeways especially in De Waal Drive and on the Simon van der Stel Freeway near Constantia. The massed flowers stretch for hundreds of metres at a time in the centre islands. The beauty of the agapanthus is it is a semi-succulent plant with its fleshy leaves and roots able to withstand quite severe water stress, so in the winter rainfall Cape Peninsula they thrive in the dry summers without too much care. The other way of growing these plants is to use them as accent plants in a rock garden or near a pond so that the flowers can be reflected in the water during our hot summers. In the conservatories of Britain, Europe and the USA it is a very popular pot or container plant. It likes to be well fed during the growing season and must have at least a months rest during the winter. They enjoy being rootbound in a fairly shallow and wide container. In the wild these plants are often found growing on rock outcrops in humus rich shallow soil. I’ve even seen them growing as epiphytes in the debris that gathers in the fork of a large forest tree.