African Lily (Agapanthus africanus)

Botanical Name : Agapanthus africanus
Family   : Alliaceae
Common name: Agapanthus
Synonyms:
Homotypic
Abumon africanum (L.) Britton, Fl. Bermuda: 72 . 1918.
Mauhlia africana (L.) Dahl, Observ. Bot.: 26 . 1787.
Tulbaghia africana (L.) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 718 . 1891.
Genus :
Agapanthus
Species: Agapanthus africanus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Genus:
Agapanthus

Habitat  : It is native of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa – Cape Peninsula to Swellendam.   Rocky sandstone slopes, usually in montane regions. Upper slopes of Table mountain and the southern mountains.Cultivated Beds;

Description:
An evergreen Bulb growing to 1m by 0.5m. It has a short stem bearing a tuft of long, narrow, arching leaves 10-35 cm long and 1-2 cm broad, and a central flower stalk 25-60 cm tall, ending in an umbel of 20-30 white, or bright blue, funnel-shaped flowers, each flower 2.5-5 cm diameter.
It is hardy to zone 9 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
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The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation:
Succeed in most soils, but prefers a light very well-drained porous soil with plenty of leaf-mold[1, 200]. Plants need to be kept moderately dry during the growing season but with some moisture in winter[1]. They only flower freely if growing in a very sunny position. Plants succeed in maritime gardens. The rhizomes are best planted only just below soil level – a mulch of gravel or stone chips will help to keep the crown of the plant free from excess moisture. This species does not usually do well in cultivation. In the wild it usually only flowers freely in the year following a bush fire. This species is not very hardy in Britain, but some forms of the plant tolerate several degrees of frost. They are best given a good mulch if temperatures lower than 0°c occur. Plants are growing well at the foot of a wall in Cambridge Botanical Gardens. Hybridizes very freely with other members of this genus, some botanists say there is only one very variable species of Agapanthus. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits. The flowering stems lean towards the sun.

Propagation
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe, it can also be sown in a greenhouse in March/April. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 18°c, do not sow it too thickly so that it is possible to grow the seedlings on in their pot without disturbing them for their first year of growth. Give occasional liquid feeds to make sure they do not become nutrient deficient. Divide the seedlings up into individual pots in the spring following germination, grow them on for a further year in the greenhouse and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Seedlings take 2 – 3 years to flower. Division of offsets in April/May. Do not move plants between October and March. Division is very easy in the growing season, the divisions can be planed straight out into their permanent positions if required.

Medicinal Uses:  Cardiac; Stomachic.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Agapanthus+africanus
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Agapanthus_africanus
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Agapanthus_africanus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agapanthus_africanus

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