AGAPANTHUS africanus 'White Heaven' PP15811
Plant Common Name
African Lily, White Heaven African Lily
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When in bloom, African lily puts on quite a show! Year-round this evergreen perennial produces clumps of glossy green, strap-like leaves. Long leafless stems topped with rounded clusters of variable violet-blue, liliaceous flowers appear with regularity, especially if plants are well-tended. Each small bloom is trumpet-shaped with tepals (petal-like sepals) that sport dark blue lines down their centers. White-flowered forms also exist. Bloom time is variable; in their native South Africa plants bloom from December through to April, during their summer and fall, but in North America they can bloom from late-winter through to fall, depending on the local climate and water availability.
Wild African lily populations inhabit a small area along the western Cape Province of South Africa where winter rainfall is plentiful. They grow in the sandy acid soils between rocks along open mountainsides from sea level up to 1000 meters. Agapanthus africanus will not tolerate freezing weather for extended periods, though select cultivars and hybrids are considerably hardier than wild-type plants.
Agapanthus form substantial clumps that arise from thick fleshy roots that spread. Though technically evergreen, the foliage may die back until spring if plants are subjected to hard, but not killing, frost. Attractive rounded clusters of small, lily-like flowers are produced throughout the growing season. Bees pollinate the flowers and small seed capsules, which turn from green to brown, follow. Cut spent stems back to keep plants looking tidy and encourage further bloom.
Provide lily-of-the-Nile full to partial sun and soil that is fertile, well-drained and acid to neutral. For best flowering, water regularly during the summer months, but keep plants drier through early winter months. Established plants will withstand substantial periods of drought. Specimens grown in containers or small garden spaces should be divided regularly as clumps tend to spread vigorously. Where marginally hardy, grow in a sheltered spot and mulch in late autumn. Indoors, overwinter in a bright spot and water sparingly late in the season.
Lily-of-the-Nile is best planted as a groundcover, border specimen or container plant. It is quite carefree; pest and disease problems are few and deer do not feed on it. The showy umbels make dramatic cut flowers.
Most evergreen African lily hybrids and cultivars on the market are attributed to Agapanthus africanus, but few are of this species. Most are actually variants of the larger-flowered Agapanthus praecox and its various subspecies.