African lily not a lily at all

Agapanthus blooms come in many different colors, but the blue is a favorite, wit

Gardens all throughout our area are struttin’ their stuff with spring in full swing. One of the most outstanding shows is the agapanthus in bloom. Oh yes, the agapanthus will stop you in your tracks with their stately beauty and wonderful fragrance.

The agapanthus (ag-uh-PANTH-us) originated in Africa. The Cape of Good Hope blooms with massive groups in its outdoor spaces, gathering admirers with agapanthus’ height and huge blooms. Count on your agapanthus reaching 2-3 feet tall.

The name is derived from the Greek words “agape” (love) and “antho” (flower). It was introduced into Europe at the close of the 17th century. A publication from 1679 was found to have noted the gorgeous plant, calling it African hyacinth.

In Southeast Texas, the agapanthus usually proves hardy enough to make it through the winter. The leaves are long and glossy and stay green all year, so they are a great border plant even when they are not blooming. There are various ways that these beauties can be grown, which makes them versatile enough for lots of spaces in your garden. Use them as a border, a mass planting or in pots and tubs. Gardeners’ input is that when the agapanthus is in a container, it blooms better when slightly root bound.

The agapanthus plant can be found in more than a half dozen varieties. There are pure white or pink, dwarf, variegated or not. The most popular variety by far is the yummy blue. Although not a lily, the common names for agapanthus are blue lily, African lily, and lily of the Nile.

Butterflies and birds and bees love them almost as much as we do. You can make the Lily of the Nile happiest by giving them at least full morning sun. They would appreciate fertile, aerated soil that does not get waterlogged. Water well during spring and summer. When the top three inches of soil feel dry, you need to water for sure. Fertilize weekly in the spring when the flowers are being formed. Every couple of years divide the plant to keep it vigorous.

So the man with the yard down the street has the same plants as you and his are blooming and yours are not? That can be frustrating. If you are having problems with your agapanthus blooming, you may need to fertilize each week and use a fertilizer heavy in phosphorus. These plants need lots of phosphorous to bloom. Another culprit of no blooms is too much water, which causes the soil to be waterlogged. In that case, begin to lighten the soil by adding mulch or loam with rotted leaves. In addition, several local gardeners agree that unless divided rather ruthlessly every few years, the blooming will all but stop.

Soil and sun determine the health of most of our plants. As with many flowers, they need their correct amount of sun to bloom. Plants that bloomed for years but stopped blooming might be located in an area where the surrounding vegetation has grown taller or lusher, blocking the sun needed for blooming. So you should be able to enjoy those fabulous, tall blooming agapanthus if you find them a sunny place in the yard that they like, feed them occasionally and give them an occasional haircut.

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