Monty Don outlines method for planting herbaceous peonies
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Agapanthus – also known as lily of the Nile or the African lily – is one of the most common ornamental blooms found in warm climates. Best loved for its large rounded flower clusters, this vibrant plant is a firm favourite for gardeners across the UK, and can be added to beds and borders right now. This stunning perennial enjoys a sunny spot where it will thrive in the summer months, but how can you plant your own? Express.co.uk reveals a simple growing guide for a perfect agapanthus display.
How to plant agapanthus
Planting season is coming to an end for this stunning bloom, so it’s best to get going before the end of April for a flush of summer flowers.
As the soil warms up throughout spring, this herbaceous plant can be planted either directly into the ground, or in pots for better protection.
Choosing the right environment for young agapanthus to grow is crucial to secure a bright display, and there are two key rules to remember.
Choose a bright planting position
All varieties of the lily of the Nile plant should be grown in well-drained soil and full sun, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), though Gardeners’ World recommended two key spots for both ground-grown and potted agapanthus.
Ground agapanthus should be planted at the foot of a south-facing wall or similar, away from shady areas.
Potted African lilies should be grown in a terracotta pot to keep the roots warm in the summer months.
Balancing drainage, food and water is crucial to get agapanthus to flower in pots, so it is important to use a good soil mix to maintain a healthy plant.
Monty Don recommended using the following combination for the perfect soil:
- One quarter grit
- One quarter peat-free potting compost
- One quarter leaf mould
- One quarter garden compost
He said: “If you can add at least grit to a potting compost, that is going to make a difference.”
Avoid using an oversized pot as this will produce a leaf-heavy plant, with few flower heads.
How to plant agapanthus in borders
Borders are one of the best places to grow agapanthus and it is very easy to do in spring.
The RHS recommended buying agapanthus containers rather than sowing seeds as the plant is less likely to dry out.
Remove the plant from the container without disturbing the roots and dig a hole large enough to position the plant.
For bulbs and fleshy rhizomes, the noses should be covered with around two inches of soil for a strong plant.
It is crucial to avoid direct planting in waterlogged soil, so it may be best to grow your flowers in pots if you live in a particularly cold area.
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How to plant agapanthus in containers
Choose a medium sized terracotta pot to fill with agapanthus for a summer display.
According to the RHS, this vibrant bloom is best grown as a single plant in an 8-9 inch diameter container.
Agapanthus can often produce more flowers when grown in pots as they thrive when their roots are restricted.
Top tips for growing agapanthus
Once planted, lily of the Nile is a relatively low maintenance flower to take care of, though some will take longer to flower.
Don’t be concerned if your plant doesn’t flower immediately
African lilies grown from seed can take up to four years to bloom, while those planted from small containers can take around a year to develop their first flush of flowers.
Take care of agapanthus in winter
While most deciduous varieties are hardier than evergreen types, all agapanthus plants require winter protection to keep them flowering year after year.
In cold regions, a greenhouse is the best place for potted agapanthus, but you can use a winter mulch to protect border perennials.
Some ground-grown evergreen agapanthus will benefit from horticultural fleece at the height of the cold season, though it is best to grow these in pots for better protection.
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