Agapanthus African lily

Height: 45-90cm (1/-3ft)

Planting distance: 20cm (8in)

Features: flowers summer to autumn

Soil: well-drained

Site: open, sun

Type: corm

Acidantheras are tender East African conns needing a mild climate and a warm sunny position to do well.

The species Acidantbera bicolor and a hardier, more spectacular strain, A. b.

‘Murieliae’, are available. (Acidantheras have recently been reclassified as gladioli but most garden retailers still refer to them by the old name.)

Flower spikes of up to ten fragrant, white, star-like blooms, each with a central, dark purple blotch, appear in late summer to early autumn, amid sword-shaped, green leaves. The graceful stems grow up to 90cm (3ft) high and are popular for cutting.

Cultivation

A. bicolor will grow in any well-drained garden soil.

Plant the corms among shrubs or perennials in an open, sunny bed in mid to late spring, setting them 10cm (4in) deep and 20cm (8 in) apart in groups of about 12.

Acidanthera bicolor ‘Murieliae’

Lift the corms before the first frost and dry them thoroughly in a warm room or greenhouse. Remove dead roots, stems, scales and any offsets (new corms growing at the base of the old corm). Store the corms and offsets in a warm, dry place until the following spring, when they can be replanted outdoors. Check occasionally for mould.

Propagation: Plant out the stored offsets in late spring; keep well weeded, lift annually with your established plants, and they should flower two or three years later.

Pests and diseases: Young shoots, leaves and stems are vulnerable to slugs, while the flowers can be distorted and discoloured by thrips.

Agapanthus ‘Lilliput’

Height: 60-75cm (2-2/ft)

Planting: distance: 25-30cm (10-12in)

Features: flowers summer to autumn

Soil: fertile, well-drained

Site: sun, shelter

Type: fleshy root

African lilies provide an impressive display of blooms through summer and early autumn. Many species are half-hardy and need winter protection but, given a sheltered sunny site, the hybrid ‘Lilliput’ can survive most winters.

African lilies have an extensive spread – three specimens, planted 25-30cm (10-12in) apart, eventually make a dense, eye-catching mass of pale blue, violet-blue or white.

Theylike being potbound and are ideal in containers on a patio or other warm sunny spot.

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