Agapanthus panned by ArtisTree Plantopinions experts.

Agapanthus doesn’t pan out for most local Sarasota County landscapes, at least if you ask ArtisTree’s Plantopinions experts. No one questions their beauty – delicate blooms in lavender, purple, blue or white perched on tall single stalks. Even the strap-like leaves in clear rich green will draw you in. But try finding any that match this description. Keeping them in good shape on a consistent basis is the magic trick. “I wish they were hardier because I’d use them all the time!” says ArtisTree Designer Clinton Lak. Here’s why patience often runs thin with these persnickety perennials also known as Lily of the Nile or African Lily.

It’s a rare treat to see Agapanthus in good shape due to soil and watering requirements.

Joe Mantkowski, ArtisTree VP Landscape Design:

These lilies are beautiful at Disney World but it’s incredibly rare to see them in good shape anywhere else. Agapanthus needs good drainage along with partial sun and shade to do well, and performs best planted in moist, organic soil. It’s a rare treat to see them successfully used as a mass planting or border plant — they can look absolutely amazing. But like I said, you seldom see them in good condition.

Clinton Lak, ArtisTree Landscape Designer:

The bloom is great and they look fantastic in a mass planting. However, the bloom time is relatively short (about a month). The plants are great butterfly/humming bird attractants. That said, they’re difficult to grow in our area (taking a long time to establish if ever) because of our wet, humid summers. Additionally, they don’t tolerate our slow percolation soils because of poor drainage and lack of substantial nutrients. I recommend Agapanthus for pots and elevated planters but not for direct installation in the landscape.

Agapanthus finally unfurls after two years of being planted at a residence in Venice, FL.

Chris Culp, ArtisTree Landscape Designer:

I like Agapanthus or “Lily of the Nile” but don’t highly recommend them. Sure, the blooms are striking — they’re surrounded by green blades that only get about two feet tall. But they don’t like a lot of water and are very particular about what kind of filtered sun they get. Plus, they only bloom for a short period of time (after which you’ll need to cut the dead flower stalks back to the ground). Definitely don’t recommend them for part-time Florida residents, either. Not a good snowbird plant.

Brian Clouser, ArtisTree Landscape Designer:

They look great when they’re happy. Otherwise, they’re “plantas tristes” – just plain sad plants. I had a job where they were installed on the east side of a tall building that had filtered sun from overhead palms and neighboring oaks. They looked fine until the neighboring property thinned their oaks. A couple hours of just slightly more intense morning sun was too much for them. If you’re looking for blue/purple flowers that thrive in filtered sun/shade, I would recommend Giant Apostle Iris (Blue Walking Iris), Mona Lavender or Liriope. All three stay under three feet. 

Agapanthus looks stunning when used as a mass planting or border plant.

Elisabeth Owen, ArtisTree Landscape Designer:

Agapanthus is rated for farther north and I struggled mightily with them in Gainesville. Here in Southwest Florida, I’ve seen them rot in a heartbeat because they are very specific about the sun/shade mix they receive. Same holds true for watering. Light irrigation between spring and fall is ideal, but then there’s our rainy season. And you shouldn’t water them in the winter when they’re dormant. Just too many care restrictions. They also have a short bloom time with a spring window. Growing Agapanthus is not easy or worth it. I’ve never used them.

Conan Michel, ArtisTree Landscape Operations Manager:

I like Agapanthus and all the different varieties available. It’s a soft tissue plant that has a nice, elegant appearance with showy flowers. But it can be temperamental in our rainy season and in our poor draining soils. I classify it as a very informal plant that’s suitable for a cottage-style landscape or a Florida friendly garden – IF you can keep it good shape. Agapanthus varies in size and appearance from plant to plant and can take up to three years to reach peak bloom.

ArtisTree VP/Landscape Joe Mantkowski & landscape designers Clinton Lak, Chris Culp, Brian Clouser, Elisabeth Owen, plus Landscape Operations Manager Conan Michel.

ArtisTree “Plantopinions” is a roundtable debate between multiple ArtisTree experts on the virtues of various plant specimens. Sometimes there’s consensus and sometimes not. In the end, you are the judge.

Contact ArtisTree Landscape 941.488.8897

ArtisTree Landscape

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