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Growing Backyard Exotics

It's been a great year for Agapanthus--a plant also known as

African lily because it originates in southern Africa. Agapanthus is common in California and the Carolinas, but in the Great Lakes region, it's an accomplishment.

The hybrid Agapanthus 'Twister' blooms white with a touch of blue.
Perfect in a pot: Agapanthus 'Twister'

Here in my Zone 6 garden, it's taken a bit of finagling to keep my tropical plants alive through the winter. Last winter wasn't a harsh one, and their homes in a room at the back of the garage worked out perfectly.


Agapanthus 'Twister' shows off its bi-color abilities.

One of the best things about Agapanthus is their ability to take their time opening up. From bud to bloomed-out takes at least two weeks, depending on the weather. The first to bloom for me this year was 'Twister', a hybrid with bi-colored flowers that I'd purchased at a garden center in 2019.


Agapanthus 'Elaine' has buds in a deep blue color.

Agapanthus 'Elaine' began to open when 'Twister' was in full bloom. I have had this cultivar since receiving it in 2017 from Glasshouse Works. It lived in the house the first two winters so it could bulk up. Its first blooms came about in 2018. Since then, I've divided it to make two plants out it.


Agapanthus 'Elaine'
Agapanthus 'Elaine' looks a bit lighter in color as it opens.

Agapanthus 'Elaine' was bred by California horticulturist Archie Amate in 1978 and introduced through the Los Angeles County Arboretum in 1990. Its buds are indigo, but open to a paler blue. 'Elaine' is considered a compact form, as it reaches just under three feet tall.


Agapanthus 'Ever White' brightens up the garden.

The newest hybrid to join my small clutch of Agapanthus is 'Ever White', a go-with-everything little plant with plenty of exuberance. And while its first flush of flowers are looking their best, it's already sending up a new batch of blooms!

Agapanthus 'Ever White' has gorgeous pure white flowers.

I've learned along the way to grow Agapanthus alone in their own pots. However, when I received a blooming sized plant of 'Ever White', I added it to a container along with an ivy geranium and a wire vine. They seem to get along great so far, and they all wintered over just fine in the back room of the garage.


Tiny flower buds of this Agapanthus flower seem to be ready to tumble out of their pod.

Whether you call it a lily (which it technically is not) or go with its botanical name (ag-uh-PAN-thus), this African plant with dozens of species should be on your list next spring.


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