The beautiful umbels of the Lily of the Nile

Whether white or blue, directly in the ground or in pots, plant Lily of the Nile ! Thanks to the different varieties, every region can avail of these beautiful flowers.

The scientific name of the plant means “plant of love” in ancient greek: Agapanthus. With elegant umbels perched atop tall scapes, this flower is know for indigo or deep blue colors, a great source of inspiration for the painter Monet.

Brought North from South Africa by explorers from Holland in the XVIIth century, this plant is prized in mild climate areas, like along the Mediterranean or the Atlantic, because it isn’t considered very hardy.

But new hybrid varieties have changed that, like the ‘Headbourne’ that can cope with temperatures as low as -4°F (-20°C).

Planting and caring for Lily of the Nile

It is best to plant Lily of the Nile in the spring or at the beginning of fall.

Choose the variety best suited to your climate:

  • evergreen foliage in mild climates,
  • deciduous foliage elsewhere.

A flowerbed filled with blue-hued agapanthus flowers.Place your plant in the sun in well drained soil, not too near trees that might block the light.

You may also plant them in pots, with a mix of ⅓ garden soil, ⅓ soil mix for geraniums and ⅓ river sand, on a thick layer of clay pebbles.

Water regularly over the first year (wait for the soil to dry before watering again) and cover with horticultural fleece over the two first winters.

Every spring, add potassium-rich fertilizer, ashes and compost for instance.

After flowering, cut the flowers at ground level, they will bloom anew in the following spring.

Variations on the theme of blue Lily of the Nile

Since they bloom all summer long, Lily of the Nile are great in flower beds together with grasses and summer flowering bulbs like Crocosmia. The fiery red of this flower lays the scene for epic battles between fire and water in the scenery.

Use blue lilies of the Nile to enhance a body of water, stand out against painted shutters, surround a blue garden table set…

Plant them together with other flowers that come in shades of blue like lavender, Russian sage, catmint… Or go for romantic color-matching associations with phlox, beeblossom and also pink-hued roses.

Laure Hamann

Edited by Gaspard


Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Young agapanthus bloom shared by MartinaFotos under © CC0 1.0
Agapanthus flower blooms shared by Forest & Kim Starr under © CC BY 4.0