Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Common knowledge

Gardeners who have little time to care for their plots are always on the look-out for plants that both look good, and look after themselves. A good place to seek some contenders is an old, neglected garden (rental houses are ideal). Plants that survive there will survive anywhere. Often seen in these overgrown paradises is a thriving clump of agapanthus, flowering freely despite total neglect.

Agapanthus is sometimes regarded with contempt by keen gardeners. There is something annoying about a plant that thrives without any input from us! Yet what could be better for todays time-poor gardeners?

Agapanthus gives you the choice of white or blue, dwarf or standard plants. There is even a dwarf, variegated agapanthus which would be a dainty addition to a cottage garden. Whichever type you have, they may start flowering less freely after some years. This is either because the clump has become congested, or because the area is now shadier due to the growth of trees. The plants can be rejuvenated by dividing the clump into as many plants as you have the patience to replant (in a sunnier position). Do it in winter, and be as brutal as you like nothing seems to kill agapanthus.

We do need to be aware of agapanthus weed potential. Very hardy plants like this do have the potential to jump the fence, so its important to remove all seed-heads after flowering finishes. If your garden is close to bushland, you might like to bypass the common agapanthus and choose one of the Agapanthus inapertus varieties or hybrids. Black Pantha is a popular example. These flower a much darker blue, with heads of drooping flowerets rather than the globular shape of the common A. praecox. These plants are virtually sterile, so they must be propagated by division, and are safe to plant anywhere.


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