Agapanthus is the sole genus belonging to the subfamily Agapanthoideae which in turn belongs to the family of flowering plants named Amarylidaceae. The common name for this flower is “Lily of the Nile”, although it is not a lily.
Agapanthus is a native to the African continent and is found abundantly from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape.
Agapanthus Flower Meaning and Symbolism
Other common name for Agapanthus is “Blue African Lily” and “African Lily”. The name of this flower is derived from the Greek word Agape which means love and athhos, which is Greek for flower. Therefore this flower according to the Greeks is a symbol of love and beauty. It is associated with all matters concerning love and romance.
Facts about Agapanthus
- Agapanthus is an exotic flower, white or blue in color and depending on the species, blooms in the period between spring and autumn.
- It is a perennial and is grown from an underground rhizome every year.
- Of all the species of Agapanthus, Agapanthus africanus is evergreen but Agapanthus campanulatus is hardier, and comes from grasslands in mountainous regions.
- These plants die during the winter but reappear in springtime.
- Medicinally, due to the presence of saponins and sapogenins, Agapanthus is believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-edema, antitussive and immunoregulatory properties.
- Possible side effects due to exposure to Agapanthus are hemolytic poisoning and severe ulceration in the mouth caused by the sap.
Cultivation of Agapanthus
- This plant is propagated by separation of the root clumps and planting them immediately after flowering.
- Attractive clumps containing shiny, green, long and curved long leaves are produced from the fleshy tubers.
- The rhizomes should be planted about an inch deep and should be spaced about 24 inches from each other.
- During the growing season, the plants need to be well-watered. Water logging should be avoided however and can be detected by the formation of yellow on the leaf tips.
- In the case of pests like red spider mite or mealy bug, it may be required to spray an insecticide on the plants.
- If Agapanthus is to be grown from seeds, then the process is quite slow. The seeds are sown in early spring and will easily germinate at temperatures ranging from 70°F to 80°F and takes about 2 to 8 weeks. The plants take 2 to 3 months to grow but the flowers form only after 3 to 4 years.
- The soil should be moderately fertile but not too richly fertile as that will lead to a soft lush growth, susceptible to damage in the winter season.
- The climate should be warm but sheltered and in hot climes, partial shade is recommended.
- A regular watering schedule in the first growing system establishes a well-defined root system which is crucial for the further propagation of the crop.
- It is desirable to remove the old foliage each year just prior to the appearance of the new leaves.