Agreeable Agapanthus, “Love Flower”
The name Agapanthus is derived from the Greek agape, meaning love, and anthos, meaning flower; thus, Agapanthus is sometimes called “Love Flower.” Although Agapanthus is originally from South Africa, the fact that it is sometimes called “Lily of the Nile” suggests that Agapanthus was traded beyond its original territory. It is also called “African Lily.”
Most Northwest gardeners associate Agapanthus with California because it grows abundantly there, blooming in the spring. In the Pacific Northwest Agapanthus goes dormant in the winter, and slowly come alive, blooming from July to October and multiplying steadily. I started three in a clump three years ago and when I dug them out last fall, came up with about twenty starts.
Until I saw how blue Agapanthus flowers attract hummingbirds, I used to think hummingbirds sought out only the red-flowering plants in the garden. Blue-flowering plants certainly come in second. In addition to light and dark blue, agapanthus blooms can be purple, white, or white with purple.
Agapanthus needs a place where it can bathe in sunlight and have good drainage. It can survive 10 degrees if it is dry. I have not lost Agapanthus planted in hot sunny spots but I bring those in containers indoors during winter to be safe.
Agapanthus gets crowded in 5 to 7 years, in which case it can be dug up any time of year. Make sure that each division has both an eye and some roots. Replant promptly, three inches deep, in good soil amended with compost, orienting the pointed side of the agreeable agapanthus bulbs up.
Yolanda Wilson is a 2004 graduate of the WSU Master Gardener Program and is also proprietor of, a flower bulb company selling on the internet and at garden shows and farmers markets. She’s always happy to speak to gardening groups about flower bulbs. You can find her each Saturday at the Beaverton Farmers Market (where she’s been selling bulbs for 14 years) or e-mail.