Agapanthus 'Silver Moon'

The best agapanthus

Known as African lily or lily of the Nile, architectural agapanthus work well in schemes large and small. Here, horticulturist Andy McIndoe selects the best ones to grow. Photos by Dianna Jazwinski.

Agapanthus hail from southern Africa, but, like their fellow countrymen crocosmias, they have spread around the world and naturalised where the climate is favourable for them. Their distribution often followed sea routes, originally carried by cargo ships and planted in the gardens of merchants and traders. In their native environment they enjoy sunshine, fertile soil and adequate rainfall. Below are some cultivation notes and recommendations for planting combinations, plus horticulturalist Andy McIndoe lists the best agapanthus to grow in the garden.

Cultivation notes

  • Agapanthus need plenty of water, particularly if grown in pots. Dry conditions, especially later in the year can result in poor flowering the following season.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Agapanthus are heavy feeders. Feeding twice a year, in spring and midsummer with rose fertiliser, or regular feeding with liquid tomato feed, provides plenty of nitrogen and potash for strong growth and abundant flowers.
  • If planting in the open ground, moist, well-drained soil is ideal. Poor dry soil needs the addition of plenty of organic matter and slow-release fertiliser. In pots a mix of loam-based growing medium with a little horticultural grit is ideal. Agapanthus do not like to be overpotted, but contrary to popular belief they do not need to be pot-bound to flower.
  • Most importantly agapanthus need sun for at least two thirds of the day. Inadequate sunlight results in thin stems, poor growth and no flowers.
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The best agapanthus to grow in the garden

1

Agapanthus ‘Glen Avon’

Agapanthus 'Glenavon'

A hardy evergreen cultivar bred in New Zealand with large flower heads consisting of hundreds of pale-blue flowers with darker stripes through the centres of the petals.
Height 1m. Hardiness rating RHS H3, USDA 8a-11.

2

A. ‘Lavender Haze’

Agapanthus 'Lavender Haze'

Massive heads of many florets, elegantly poised on fine stalks. Flowers over a long period in mid season. In most areas it will need some winter protection.
Height 90cm. Hardiness ratings RHS H3, USDA 8a-11.

3

A. ‘Snow Cloud’

Agapanthus 'Snow Cloud'

Huge, spherical heads of hundreds of pure-white flowers with yellow anthers on strong stems ensure a long blooming period in mid season. Perfect for a pot or a mixed border.
Height 90cm. Hardiness rating RHS H3, USDA 8a-11

4

A. Silver Moon (= ‘Notfred’)

Agapanthus 'Silver Moon'

Its silver-edged, slender leaves makes a splash in the border throughout the season. A hardy, deciduous cultivar with pale-blue flowers produced freely in mid season.
Height 45cm. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

5

A. ‘White Heaven’

Agapanthus 'White Heaven'

A hardy, cultivar with sparkling pure-white flower heads of starry, upturned florets with yellow stamens that are freely produced on compact plants in mid season.
Height 75cm. Hardiness rating RHS H3, USDA 8a-11.

6

A. ‘Jacaranda’

Agapanthus 'Jacaranda'

A particularly early flowering cultivar selected by plant breeder Ken Rigney of Southampton. Showy heads of mid-blue flowers, striped with a deeper blue, are held above evergreen foliage.
Height 75cm. Hardiness rating RHS H3, USDA 8a-11.

7

A. Brilliant Blue (= ‘AGA0451’)

Agapanthus 'Brilliant Blue'

This early flowering cultivar from New Zealand is one of the best with brilliant, rich-blue flowers, striped with darker blue, in rounded umbels carried about narrow emerald-green leaves.
Height 45cm. Hardiness ratings RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

8

A. ‘African Skies’

Agapanthus 'African Skies'

A magnificent evergreen agapanthus producing large, rounded flower heads of mid-blue blooms with darker stripes on strong stems. The individual flowers are well presented and outward facing; they appear mid-season. A cultivar selected by agapanthus specialist Richard Fulcher.
Height 1m. Hardiness ratings RHS H3, USDA 8a-11.

9

A. ‘Ballerina’

Agapanthus 'Ballerina'

An elegant, deciduous agapanthus with pale-blue florets, characteristic of its parent species Agapanthus inapertus. In well-drained soil and full sun it is free flowering in mid to late season.
Height 1.2m. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

10

A. Twister

Agapanthus 'Twister'

A popular agapanthus with pretty sapphire-blue trumpets, opening to pure-white petals. It is the first hardy, bicoloured agapanthus. Has semi-evergreen foliage and a compact habit.
Height 45cm. Hardiness ratings RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

11

A. ‘Flower of Love’

Agapanthus 'Flower of Love'

An extremely free-flowering agapanthus introduced by plant breeder Richard Fulcher. Its dark-blue flowers are carried in full, rounded umbels above rich green leaves. Height 60cm.

12

A. ‘Silver Baby’

Agapanthus 'Silver Baby'

Free-flowering from early in the season, this dwarf cultivar forms a clump of grass-like evergreen foliage and has generous umbels of starry, white blooms flushed with pale blue. Height 45cm. Hardiness ratings RHS H3, USDA 8a-10b.

13

A. ‘Megan’s Mauve’

Agapanthus 'Megan's Mauve'

An evergreen cultivar with luxuriant strappy leaves and tall, strong stems carrying a spectacular flower head. Purple buds open to mauve blooms with darker stripes. Needs winter protection. Good for pots.
Height 1.2m. Hardiness rating RHS H3, USDA 8A-11.

14

A. ‘Moonlight Star’

Agapanthus 'Moonlight Star'

A lovely agapanthus with open, starry florets of pale-blue, distinctly striped with a deep-violet blue, giving the umbels a sparkling appearance. Blooming mid season the flowers are carried on strong, upright stems. Good for pots.
Height 60cm.

15

A. ‘Purple Emperor’

Agapanthus 'Purple Emperor'

An Agapanthus inapertus hybrid with large flower heads consisting of pendulous purple-blue flowers. The mid-to-late-season flowers are not prolific, but it is a hardy plant and has a wonderful colour.
Height 1m. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

16

A. ‘Pretty Sandy’

Agapanthus 'Pretty Sandy'

A lovely new cultivar selected by Richard Fulcher from A. ‘Bray Valley’ seedlings. Large, rounded heads of abundant lilac-blue florets are freely produced over a long period in mid season. Hardy, reliable and an excellent plant.
Height 75cm.

17

A. ‘Bray Valley’

Agapanthus 'Bray Valley'. Photo by Dianna Jazwinski

An excellent, free-flowering, hardy cultivar with neat rounded flower heads consisting of many florets, ensuring a long flowering period from July onwards. Deep-sapphire-blue and hardy it has all the attributes most gardeners look for in an agapanthus.
Height 75cm. Hardiness ratings RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

18

A. ‘Northern Star’

Agapanthus 'Northern Star'

Free-flowering, hardy cultivar. Dark-purple buds, open to outward-facing, star-shaped blooms. Flowers are deep blue, with darker purple streaks down the centres of the petals.
Height 75cm. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

19

A. ‘Liam’s Lilac’

Agapanthus 'Liam's Lilac'

A late-flowering cultivar with loose heads of silver, trumpet-shaped flowers. Individual blooms are carried on dark stalks, deep lilac at the base, becoming paler at the mouth of each floret.
Height 90cm. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

20

A. ‘Silver Lining’

Agapanthus 'Silver Lining'

This hardy Agapanthus praecox x Agapanthus inapertus hybrid has strong flower stems carrying abundant showers of white blooms, flushed with pale blue-grey. Elegant and hardy.
Height 60cm. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

21

A. ‘Indigo Dreams’

Agapanthus Indigo Dreams

A deciduous cultivar with loose flower heads carried on rather lax stems. Its purple-blue flowers can appear almost black against paler cultivars, but it is surprisingly hardy for such an exotic colour.
Height 75cm. Hardiness rating RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b.

Planting partners

Combine Agapanthus with herbaceous geraniums, roses and penstemons. If planted with crocosmias, dahlias and heleniums the sapphire blooms take on a jewel-like quality. Pair them with cannas and they become positively tropical.

Both blue and white agapanthus are a delight against soft, white, variegated foliage and the frothy flowers of early Hydrangea paniculata ‘Praecox’ planted with A ‘Ballerina’ has a certain refined look to it.

Extend the season with the white-flowered Allium ‘Mount Everest’ and lilac-purple Allium ‘Gladiator’; both bloom before the agapanthus.

Where to see and buy

Bowdens
Sticklepath, Oakhampton, Devon EX20 2NL
Tel 01837 840989, bowdenhostas.com

Fairweather’s Garden Centre
National collection holder with Agapanthus open days
Beaulieu, Hampshire SO42 7YB
Tel 01590 612113, fairweathers.co.uk

Hoyland Plant Centre
National Collection holder
54 Greenside Lane, Hoyland, South Yorkshire S74 9PZ
Tel 01226 744466, somethingforthegarden.co.uk

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RJ Fulcher
Plant breeder and National Collection holder. Opens by appointment in late summer.
Pine Cottage, Fourways, Eggesford, Chulmleigh, Devon EX18 7QZ.
Tel 07718 505053