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Lily of the Nile

Lily of the NileThese beautiful and hardy plants are native to the rocky soil of southern Africa. It becomes a very strong perennial for Zones 9-11. These grass-like clumps will usually grow between one and three feet..

The agapanthus forms a genus of about ten species whose name literally means love (agape) flower (anthos).

Their leaves are narrow and they are popular for their green foliage and long summer blooms. The leaves grow from the fleshy rhizome roots.

They are ideal for a background drop in flowerbeds and come in varying degrees of blue, purple, and white. Likewise, the flowers may be in clumps from one to 100.

Lily SeedheadGrowing Conditions

The plant requires full sun - if not, at least half a day. They can thrive in conditions of neglect and on dry slopes and on the coast. They will tolerate most conditions of soil as long as they get water in the spring and in the summer. It is an excellent plant to naturalize, and can also be used as a container plant.

The garden encyclopedia "Botanica" it says, "Remove spent flower stems and dead leaves at the end of winter. "


Propagation is usually done by division, however, with patience, seed can be sown in the fall and in the spring.

Agapanthus bloomWhen the pods dry you can cut them off and dry them the rest of the way to plant.

However, our "A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants" says "most plants grown from garden seeds do not come in true." and that, "They will flower in 2-3 years." This is not unusual for highly cultivated plants like the Lilly of the Nile. The seeds do not produce plants that are true to the parent. The flower will probably be a different color when it blooms at all.

Best idea is to propagate by division.

Division of the lily of the Nile is quite simple. Very much like the daylily. Dividing early in the spring before the bulb has set a flower bud is best. Otherwise I would wait 'til the fall. After a good rain will help the digging. Also try to do this task early in the morning to prevent stress, and strain on the plant.

Try to dig the entire plant ball up together and massage the dirt off and see exactly the different root areas. Or dig up and slice in half or third.

Replanting the same day and watering well. Do not fertilize 'til the plant is settled in and has taken root.

Emily: Is eating lilies healthy?

AgapanthusDear Emily: Someone picked up a lily of the Nile at home depot saying that he eats a little piece of it every day because it helps with many illnesses. I thought this plant was poisonous?

A: The lily of the Nile is an agapanthus, not actually in the lily family.

There are a number of good web sites for poisonous plants.

Most list the lily as poisonous but say nothing about the agapanthus.

I do not know about helping with illnesses nor am I encouraging you to eat the agapanthus.

I understand an aspirin a day is good for you.

I wonder if health insurance will cover the agapanthus?

Is Home Depot listed as a medical provider?