Agapanthus “Brilliant Blue” – Lily of the Nile
Violet-blue flowerheads 6” across, above deep green, strap-like leaves.
Vigorous herbaceous plant with flowers rising to about 1m above leaves to about 50cm. Agapanthus is found all over New Zealand. Garden escapes are felt by some to present a bio-diversity hazard, though it is not particularly invasive. Mostly though it is admired as a beautiful and reliable garden plant. Some of the larger varieties can be a bit overwhelming. Brilliant Blue is one of the mid-sized varieties, which is more suitable for smaller gardens.
Agapanthus come from South Africa. Who knows where the name “Lily of the Nile” came from. And they are not even Lilies, being in the Amarylidacea family and not Liliacea. Some consider it should be in its own family of Agapanthacea, but it is still not a Lily! Almost all garden varieties are hybrids of Agapanthus praecox, which hybridises readily and a bewildering array of hybrids are now available, including some with variegated leaves. Blue is the prototypical flower colour for Agapanthus, though white and purple also exist.
Soil / Aspect:
Agapanthus “Brilliant Blue” grows well in a variety of soils. With its deep roots it needs no watering. Except in the driest years, it will flower happily on the moisture in the soil from spring rain.
This plant suffers from no discernible pests or diseases. It can be tidied up in autumn but trimming the outer leaves. Generally though this plant is best left alone. It certainly does not like being moved, though that is unavoidable when it comes to dividing plants, which is much the easiest way to propagate. In that case, dig down as far as you can to take as much of the deep roots as possible, and accept that you will lose a year’s flowers.