International Flower Bulb Centre
Plant Common Name
African Lily, Lily-of-the-Nile
Beautiful on all counts, Agapanthus caulescens is a lesser-known, deciduous African lily that is more free-flowering than common evergreen Agapanthus species. It produces tall flower stalks topped with rounded heads of slightly drooping, trumpet-shaped liliaceous blooms that are dark to light blue. Several distinct subspecies exist that differ in flower size and habit. All naturally inhabit rocky grasslands in different regions of Swaziland, a small country to the east of South Africa. This part of Africa has summer rainfall and dry winters.
A clump-forming tender perennial, Agapanthus caulescens spreads via thick, fleshy, rhizomatous roots. Its green, strap-like foliage dies back in winter. The slightly fragrant, vivid blue flowerheads are produced in masses from early summer through to fall, depending on local climate and water availability. Pollination is carried out by bees and birds; hummingbirds visit the blooms in North America. The seedheads that follow are loaded with black seeds that are carried by wind. Plants may self-sow, if growing conditions are favorable.
This African lily is best grown outdoors, where hardy. It requires full sun and sharply drained soil that is slightly acid and rocky. Reduce watering in winter, and divide and transplant in spring as new growth is just starting to emerge. Place this African lily in a rock garden or large container where it can best show off its prolific flowers.
Variants include the slender-leaved, Agapanthus caulescens ssp. angustifolius, which has smaller flowers, and A. caulescens ssp. gracilis, which has smaller flowers with distinctly recurved tepals.
AHS Heat Zone
12 - 1
USDA Hardiness Zone
8 - 11
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade
2'-3' / 0.6m - 0.9m
1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m
Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall
Container, Cutflower, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns