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Agapanthus are putting on a real show in our yards now!

Master Gardener Ciscoe Morris says wait to cut back in late winter and divide in the spring.

SEATTLE — Agapanthus is Greek for love flower, and the beauty of the globe shaped blossoms shows why these lovely herbaceous perennials were so named. Known commonly as ‘Lily of the Nile,’ these African native perennials form attractive clumps of narrow, strap-shaped leaves but the real show begins in in mid-summer, when the large showy flower clusters form at the end of tall stems. 

The blossoms commonly come in shades of blue or purple, but also are available in white and pink. In the old days, the only Agapanthus available had flowers in shades of powder blue, but recently, new ones are showing up at nurseries and on-line with amazingly colorful flowers in varying shapes and sizes. 

Agapanthus ‘Blue Leap’ blooms in August on sturdy 4-foot stems with softball sized silvery blue flowers while Agapanthus ‘Purple Cloud’ has equally large heads of dark striped purple-violet blossoms. My new favorite, is Agapanthus 'Twister.' This stunner features flowers with a blue base and white petals. If you share my love for dark colored flowers, you won’t be able to resist Agapanthus inapertus 'Graskop' and Agapanthus inapertus ‘Midnight Cascade.’ Both of these gorgeous plants feature unusual, drooping florets so darkly colored they almost appear to be black. Unfortunately the dark blue varieties are evergreen and aren't reliably hardy in our region. 

Mulching heavily with evergreen fern fronds will add insulation and repel excess water sometimes succeeds in keeping the more tender varieties alive, but if you want to be sure to enjoy their gorgeous flowers next summer, dig and pot them up in fall to overwinter in an unheated garage. If you do store them in an unheated garage place them in front of a window and water just enough to keep them from wilting. Wait to replant until the danger of freeze has passed.

Agapanthus must have full sun and well- drained soil to thrive in our area. For the best blooming give them an application of organic rose food worked into the soil every spring. They often spread by seed, and seedlings can be transplanted to start new clumps in spring, but they don't come true to seed so you don't know what the flowers will look like. 

If your Agapanthus stop blooming well, it usually means the plant is getting over crowded and needs dividing. Dividing is also a great way to get new plants. They're easy to divide in spring. When new growth begins simply dig a clump and look for natural divisions where there is space between the bunches of leaves. Use your digging spade or an old pruning saw to cut through the divisions, replant and you've got yourself a new clump agapanthus.

Finally, don't be in a hurry to cut back the foliage and seed heads of Agapanthus in the fall. The seed heads left in the garden will supply food for birds and other critters while the foliage provides a sheltered place to forage for insects.

Segment Producer Suzie Wiley. Watch New Day Northwest at 11 a.m. weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day. 

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