My favourite plant for many years has been the Agapanthus. This year the ‘beast from the east’ slowed it down a little but then it enjoyed the summer sunshine and survived very well in drought conditions.
Pot grown ones did need watering and feeding regularly. Commonly known as the African Lily, it is a
vigorous perennial with fleshy roots from South Africa. Despite their South African origins, they are easy to grow in the UK. Some species are evergreen and these tend to be less hardy than the deciduous varieties that die down completely over winter.
Agapanthus grow best in full sun in a well-drained soil. Planting in shade will result in poor flowering. If your soil is thick or heavy, plant with grit or compost to loosen surrounding area. They dislike being waterlogged in winter and in colder parts of the country prone to frosts, should be grown in large pots which can be protected in winter in a cold frame, greenhouse or conservatory. I grow them in pots, and shelter them in winter. The hardier varieties will grow in borders covered with a mulch for protection.
The last 2 years I grew some in window boxes with great success. They had 3 foot stems dancing above the pelargoniums and fuschias. It is important to feed them weekly or fortnightly with a balanced liquid feed during the growing season until flowers begin to show colour.
Agapanthus will be reluctant to flower next year if subjected to drought conditions after flowering. To ensure a good display next year, keep plants moist until autumn after flowers start to fade. This will encourage the development of new flower buds.
If you are fond of the colour blue, Agapanthus are the plants for you. There is nothing better for an infusion of midsummer blue than a border or pot lined path of Agapanthus. They come in a range of colours and heights from almost black through to purple, from French navy to royal blue, to subtle lilac, pink, grey and white.
With careful planning borders in July to late September could be filled with varieties of Agapanthus of all heights from 20cm dwarf forms to giants up to 2 metres.
As usual space is running out. Look up more information on varieties and start planning for next season. I mention one unusual variety I bought a few weeks ago, Agapanthus Graskop. The buds emerge almost black and are held erect atop tall stems, slowly elongating and finally becoming pendulous as they open. It is hardy and can be grown in containers or borders. This winter I will nurture it in the conservatory.