This striking agapanthus with its compact head of drooping, dark
violet blue flowers is always commented on when first seen. The
buds as they emerge seem almost black and are held erect, slowly
elongating and finally becoming pendulous as they open.
clone named Graskop, occurs in Mpumalanga near the town
of Graskop and grows in grassland areas in the summer rainfall area.
It is a deciduous species which has narrow light green leaves. Plants
stand about 600 mm tall and the flower stems reach a height of 900
mm. They flower in January and February. The plants need abundant
water during the growing season and should be planted in well-drained
soil in full sunlight. They make good container plants and are best
appreciated in the landscape as specimen plants or in small groups.
They can also be mixed with other plants, but must not be overcrowded
or they will not flower well. Although deciduous, they do tolerate
rain during their dormant period. They can withstand sub zero temperatures
for short periods but at Inverewe in Scotland several nights at
minus 10 degrees Celsius killed large clumps. In the northern hemisphere
plants in containers can be moved into a glasshouse during winter
while plants outdoors should be covered with straw or similar material
to help protect them.
AGAPANTHUS IN GENERAL
Agapanthus is amongst South Africas best-known plants,
having first been mentioned in literature in Europe as early as
1679. It was, however, not until 1965 that Francis M. Leighton published
her monograph on the genus, recognising 10 species and several subspecies.
Although her work has given us some understanding of Agapanthus,
the enormous variability of species in the field requires a comprehensive
study of all known localities to properly research the genus and
to resolve many unanswered questions regarding this fascinating
group of plants.
The first Agapanthus species to reach Europe were A.
africanus and A. praecox, which are not very cold tolerant.
The introduction of deciduous species, in particular A. campanulatus,
led to the development of a much hardier range of hybrids.
Agapanthus can be divided into two groups, the evergreen
species which are A. africanus, A. comptonii, A. praecox and
A. walshii, and the deciduous species namely A. campanulatus,
A. caulescens, A. coddii, A. dyeri, A. inapertus and A. nutans.
Agapanthus species grow from sea level to an altitude of
2000 metres and from the Cape Peninsula to just south of the Limpopo
River. The plants all need full sun or lightly shaded positions
for optimum growth and flowering. The soil should be well drained
and humus rich, except for A. africanus and A. walshii,
which grow in mineral poor soils in the winter rainfall area and
need to be kept dry in summer. All other Agapanthus species
require water in the growing period but can withstand dry conditions,
particularly A. praecox and its hybrids. Agapanthus plants
enjoy a good feed in summer with a slow release fertiliser. Always
water well after applying fertiliser.
The only way to ensure that desirable plants are increased is by
division. Deciduous species are best split in spring, just as the
growing tips begin to show. The evergreen species should be split
in autumn after flowering. When clumps are split, each section must
have a strong growing shoot, which will guarantee success. Plants
should then be left undisturbed for so long as they are flowering
Unless gathered in the wild seed is unlikely to come true. Plants
raised from seed can, however, result in exciting new varieties.
Seed needs a temperature of 15,5 ºC or higher to germinate.
Seed should be sown as fresh as possible in trays or open beds in
a frost-free environment. Sow in a well-drained mix and lightly
cover the seed ensuring that it never dries out. Seed sown plants
will flower within two to four years.
Agapanthus plants have few pests. Occasionally thrips, red spider,
mealy bugs, gall midge flies, snout beetles or caterpillars may
attack them. Only in the case of severe infestations should they
be sprayed as they invariably recover by themselves. Snails do find
refuge under the leaves but do not feed on the plants. Botrytis
may cause bud malformation and Agapanthus fungus could cause leaves
to die back. Once more, only spray when essential. Approach your
local Nurseryman for the best advice on what to spray. Frequent
division of plants can lead to virus being introduced. This usually
manifests itself in the leaves by means of yellow streaking. Such
plant should be removed and destroyed.
Finally agapanthus flowers make good cut flowers. Cut when the
first few flowers are open and they will last for seven to ten days