How to grow Agapanthus
Agapanthus are just great garden flowers, exotic looking, striking blue and coming to their peak in late July & August. Growing Agapanthus is not difficult, but they do need some attention, which is why I have rated Agapanthus amber wheelbarrow as medium difficulty to grow. It is really important to select the correct variety and plant in the right place in your garden. Once established they will flower for some years without any real attention.
Like so many of our garden favourites, when growing Agapanthus, the trick is to get the right plant in the right place and this is very much the case with Agapanthus. The are about 10 species of Agapanthus both deciduous and evergreen, and most importantly, Agapanthus vary in hardiness. As a rule of thumb, the deciduous varieties are more hardy than the evergreen, and all varieties benefit from a good winter mulch.
When growing Agapanthus outside, if your garden is not sheltered, you will need to select a fully hardy variety, *** hardy, such as Blue giant, Midnight blue, Lilliput (as you may expect a short variety up to 10cms) Snowy Owl with white flowers. Check when you buy as selecting a hardy variety is the first important step to growing Agapanthus. For an explanation of what is meant by hardy follow this link
If your garden is exposed and prone to frost, or you wish to grow a more tender variety, Agapanthus grow very well in pots and can easily be moved into a unheated conservatory or greenhouse for the winter.
It is said that Agapanthus flower best when their roots are constricted. Currently all the Agapanthus I have growing in containers are flowering very well, those in the ground are struggling. The picture above of Agapanthus in the border is deceptive; because it is in a pot in the border. In summer when the borders are lush, it is easy to place a pot so that the container cannot be seen but the flowers can. The middle photo above is actually Agapanthus growing in a pot placed in a border; they do grow very well in containers as illustrated.
Whether growing Agapanthus in the ground or containers it is a good idea to mulch in the winter. The plants can take a couple of years to get established. Once established, if you are growing in a container it's a good idea to divide and plant in fresh compost every few years.
Even though Agapanthus like moisture retentive soil, perversely they will establish in containers, all Agapanthus like sun as they originate from warm climates in South Africa. Agapanthus do well in coastal gardens, being tolerant of salty winds, and positively thrive in Cornwall and Scillies, where they seem to grow wild. For more ideas about coastal gardens follow this link. Growing Agapanthus is very rewarding with striking flowers and foliage and easy to grow in milder areas of the country where they can be left undistributed in the garden and will reward with many flowers year after year. Even in more exposed areas, by chosing a hardier variety and either mulching or growing in a container, Agapanthus can be grown all over the UK.
How to look after Agapanthus in the winter
Looking after Agapanthus in the winter depends on both the variety you are growing, and your garden aspect. Many Agapanthus are described as hardy but they still benefit from some protection in winter. It is necessary to check the precise variety you are growing, but as a general rule the deciduous varieties are more hardy than the evergreen types. The RHS new hardy ratings take into account other aspects apart from simple tempreture as the aspect is important; some plants maybe described as hardy but if the ground is wet may not survive the winter.
Agapanthus planted in most gardens, apart from very mild areas, will benefit from a winter mulch of around 15-20 cms of straw or similar. As the evergreen varieties are more tender they may need a fleece during the worst of the winter cold. If your garden is very exposed it maybe best to bring the Agapanthus under glass over winter which unless you like digging, can mean growing Agapanthus in pots. However, Agapanthus grow well in pots and benefit from a regular feed during the growing season. In all sheltered areas the more hardy varieties of Agapanthus will be fine with a mulch. In more exposed gardens, and if growing some of the evergreen more tender varieties, Agapanthus will need a fleece or to be in an unheated greenhouse. The Agapanthus in the image above spends winter in the greenhouse and flowers very well. The main causes of Agapanthus failing to flower are too much shade, Agapanthus are sun loving, cold temperatures and lack of winter protection.