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Home & garden.

Updated: 10 May 2022

How to grow agapanthus and best varieties

Agapanthus have the sort of relaxed glamour that evokes memories of summer holidays. Discover our best agapanthus varieties and tips for how to grow them.
Ceri Thomas
Agapanthus

Agapanthus, or African lilies, are beautiful plants for a sunny borders and pots. They like well-drained soil. The deciduous kinds that lose their leaves in the autumn are hardier than evergreen ones so recommend you grow these.

Which? Gardening magazine grew a range of popular varieties to see which would give us the best display.


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Key facts

PLANT TYPE Tender perennial

POSITION Partial shade

SOIL Best Buy compost for containers

How to grow agapanthus: month by month

JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune


PLANTPLANT/DIVIDEPLANT
JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
FLOWERINGFLOWERING
MULCH

Best agapanthus varieties

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and which are our Best Buy varieties. If you’re not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Full testing results for agapanthus

Tall agapanthus

Variety nameOverall ratingFlower durationFlower impactFlower headFlower amountPlant vigourAttractiveness to beesPest & disease resistance






TABLE NOTES The more stars the better. OVERALL RATING Based on: flower duration 20%, flower impact 20%, flower head 10%, flower amount 20%, plant vigour 10%, attractiveness to bees 10%, pest and disease resistance 10%. Ratings are taken from the second year of the trial. Height x spread are actual measurements taken in the second year of the trial and are likely to be less than for more mature plants. Flower head rating relates to their shape and how full of bloom they were. Flower amount relates to the number of flower heads produced and combines with vigour, relating to the growth of the plants, as a measurement of how well they established within the two years of the trial.

Dwarf agapanthus

Variety nameOverall ratingFlowering duration: northFlowering duration: southFlower impactShapeDisplayVigourPests & diseasesBee & insect attraction







USING THE TABLE The more stars the better. SCORE Ignores prices and is based on flowering duration 20%; flower impact 20%; flower amount 20%, bee and insect attraction 10%; pests and diseases 10%; shape of plant 10%; and vigour 10%

How we test agapanthus

We chose 21 varieties of deciduous agapanthus and,  in spring, planted three plants of each at our Which? Gardening magazine trial garden in North London and at Greenbank Garden on the outskirts of Glasgow. We grew and assessed them through two growing seasons for: the impact of the flowers, including how big and full the heads were, and how long they bloomed; how well they established and developed within two years; their attractiveness to pollinating insects; how susceptible they were to common problems.

Caring for your plants

Planting

Buy 1-2L-sized plants if possible. Plants in 9cm pots should be grown on in larger pots and protected in winter before planting out. 

Plant in spring so they establish before cold weather sets in. Position in well-drained soil in full sun.

Planting agapanthus

Watering

Deciduous types grow in summer, so don’t let them dry out in spells of dry weather as this will affect flowering the following year. 

Protect plants from winter cold

Mulch plants with a layer of straw or fleece in late autumn to protect them from cold winter weather. Established plants should cope with colder conditions, but in very cold areas, mulching may improve flowering the following year.

Growing in pots

Agapanthus can grow well in large pots. Use a Best Buy compost for containers and mix in a Best Buy controlled-release feed. Remove the top few centimetres of old compost each spring and replace with fresh compost and feed.

Water regularly and feed with high potash feed, such as tomato feed, during the growing season.

Repot regularly to the next size up, as restricted roots lead to fewer flowers, not better flowering, as is often said.

Making new plants by dividing

Congested clumps can be divided and replanted in spring. Dig up the clump and pull it apart or cut into pieces with an old knife. Each piece needs to have roots and shoots. Replant the pieces straight away - any spares can be given away to family and friends.

Common growing problems

Agapanthus gall midge

This is a relatively new pest to the UK. The larvae attack flower buds leading to distortion and discolouration, and can be seen inside the bud. There are no chemical controls, but picking off the flower buds may help to reduce future damage.