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Agapanthus inapertus. Wikimedia
Agapanthus inapertus, an elegant perennial
Gardening

Agapanthus inapertus, an elegant perennial

Agapanthus has been cultivated in Europe since the seventeenth century and has become a popular garden plant for the back of borders or in containers

Friday, 17 May 2024, 20:24

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Agapanthus inapertus is an elegant perennial with long, strap-like leaves and tall stems topped with bunches of drooping, tubular flowers in shades of blue and purple.

The genus, part of Amaryllis family Amarilladaceae, consists of around six species endemic to South Africa where it can be found growing wild in open grassland and on forest edges.

Unlike other species of Agapanthus, A. inapertus dies back to the ground in dry winters and becomes dormant. It is frost resistant and will withstand short periods of drought although for optimal flowering regular irrigation is recommended. It can be grown in full sun or dappled shade and is not fussy about soil type, although it grows best in a neutral or alkaline medium.

Agapanthus has been cultivated in Europe since the seventeenth century and has become a popular garden plant for the back of borders or in containers. The tall flowering stems, up to 1.5 metres tall, can be used in cut flower arrangements. There are many cultivars, some offering deep indigo blue blooms to pale blue and even some white but the most common colour is dark blue. Each flower is a narrow tube which gives it its specific epithet 'inapertus' which means 'closed' in Latin. The genus name comes from Greek, 'agapé' meaning 'love' and 'anthos' meaning 'flower'.

Agapanthus inapertus is easy to grow and needs little maintenance. As it dies back in the winter, the dead leaves and blooms can be removed. It can be propagated by fresh seed but, as it cross pollinates very easily, the resulting plants may not be true replicas of the parent plant. It can also be divided when dormant in the winter but then may not flower the following season while it gets established again.

In South Africa, the thick, rhizomatous roots are boiled and the water used for bathing as it is purported to bring good luck.

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