Agapanthus africanus


Agapanthus are one of South Africa's best known garden plants and are grown in most countries in the world. Their strap-like leaves and striking blue or white flowers make them an easy and attractive garden species.

Pollination is by wind, bees and sunbirds. Baboons and buck sometimes eat the flower heads just as the first flowers begin to open. The seed which is often parasitized is dispersed by the wind. These plants are adapted to survive fire in the fynbos. They resprout from thick, fleshy roots.

Plant extracts used as fungicide, pesticide, in prolonged labour and as a living plant it shows signs of being able to clean up petroleum pollution (phytoremediation). See:

Propagation instructions - cuttings

Both subspecies of Agapanthus africanus are difficult to grow. A africanus subspecies africanus is not suitable as a garden plant except in rockeries. They are best grown in containers in a well drained, slightly acid sandy mix and appear happiest if pot bound. They seem to grow best in shallow containers and will flower regularly if fed with a slow release fertiliser.
A. africanus subsp. walshii is by far the most difficult agapanthus to grow. The best medium appears to be a very well-drained, sandy, acid mix with minimal watering in summer. It can only be grown as a container plant and will not survive if planted out. It is unfortunate that it is so hard to grow because it is most attractive when in flower and would make an excellent pot plant.

Propagation instructions - seeds

Both subspecies can be propagated by fresh seed. The seed germinates best if sown in a well-drained seed mix and lightly covered. The seed trays should be placed on heated beds under a mistspray set for about five minutes twice a day. Germination takes place in 4 to 6 weeks and the trays should then be removed to a lightly shaded area. Good results will also be obtained when the trays are placed indoors or outdoors in light shade and watered twice a day, provided the day time temperature is higher than 18° Celsius.

Sources and references

Scientific name

Agapanthus africanus

Common name(s)

Cape agapanthus