These plants are a striking addition to your garden. Their round blooms draw interest with ease, and the bees love them. Find out the answers to Google’s most-asked questions about Agapanthus (African Lilies).

Where is Agapanthus native to?

Agapanthus has been traced back to a specific area in South Africa, the cliffs of the Cape of Good Hope! They would grow naturally here between rock crevices, adding bright colours to the landscape.

Overall though, this lovely plant is native to Southern Africa, particularly South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

Agapanthus (African Lily) growing near Cape Town in South Africa

Are Agapanthus annuals, biennials, or perennials?

Agapanthus are perennials! They will independently grow back each year to produce their recognisable trumpet-shaped flowers.

Which garden styles are they best for?

You will often find Agapanthus flowers in formal garden design. However, their globe-shaped blooms are charming in a cottages-style garden too.

Their versatile appearance means you could make wonderful use out of them in any garden space.

How do you grow Agapanthus from seed?

These plants are pretty straightforward when growing from seed. You can get them flowering within 2-3 years of planting, but it will be worth the wait.

Extract the seeds from the brown seedhead, they should come out easily. This is because the capsules will be starting to burst already. It is best to let the seed pod ripen on the plant, and you can identify this when they turn brown.

Sow the seeds in a tray indoors between February and March over peat-free compost, then cover the compost and seeds with sharp grit.

Agapanthus (African Lily) before flowering

Once the seedlings are strong enough, thin them out by taking them out of the tray and separating them ready for potting.

Pot them individually to give them their own space. Gradually harden them off between April and early May, before planting them between late May and early June.

You harden off plants by placing them in a sheltered position, in either a cool glasshouse, cold frame, or protected by fleece. This will prepare them better for the cooler temperatures they will be exposed to when planted out.

Try to plant them approximately 60cm apart. If you would prefer to sow your seeds outdoors, you can do so straight into the soil between June and July in a seed bed.

How long do the seeds take to germinate?

Germination can take up to 1 month after sowing your Agapanthus seeds. It is best to do this indoors, as you can keep the temperature consistently between 15 and 20 degrees Celcius (60-80 degrees Fahrenheit). This will help to speed up the growing process.

What time of year do you collect Agapanthus seeds?

Aim to do this once the flowerheads have completely faded. This will likely be in mid-to-late September.

How do I know when my seeds are ready to harvest?

The seeds will likely be ready once the flower petals have started to fall off the plant. Remove the pods from the centre of the flower. Try to do this gently, as this will prevent your seeds from accidentally sowing on the ground.

Make sure you wait until the seed pod is completely ripened on the plant. You will know it has, because it will go completely brown.

Agapanthus (African Lily) seeds on the plant

When do Agapanthus start growing back?

Agapanthus will start to re-emerge in the spring months, once the winter frosts have faded. The spring weather will bring warmer soil, and more hours of daylight to encourage the plant to grow.

Do Agapanthus self-seed?

It is possible for Agapanthus to self-seed. If you leave the flowerheads and seed pods on the plant, there is a chance they will burst, and spread their seeds across your borders and flower beds.

Did you know?

Agapanthus, otherwise known as ‘Lily of the Nile’, is not actually a lily! It belongs to the same family as daffodils.

Is Agapanthus easy to grow?

Yes, Agapanthus is pretty easy to grow. They are easiest to grow when done so by rhizomes.

A rhizome is just a stem full of energy that grows underground horizontally, producing new plant systems like shoots and roots.

The Rhizomes store food such as proteins, nutrients, starches and glucose to help them survive unfavourable environmental conditions.

A bulb, alternatively, is a modified underground bud, which is not what an Agapanthus grows from.

They like to be grown in well-drained soil in full sun, they should thrive well.

They grow particularly well in pots or containers, with a loam-based compost. Try to find a sunny and sheltered spot for them.

Agapanthus growing in containers

How do you grow Agapanthus?

Plant them in the spring either in pots, or directly into the garden. They prefer a sheltered position to offer some protection during the winter.

If you choose to grow it in a container, terracotta pots are ideal as this helps to keep the roots warm during the summer.

Feed Agapanthus in spring with a slow-releasing fertiliser, and water regularly during the growing season.

You need to feed Agapanthus in borders and containers slightly differently. For border plants use a balanced fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone. And for containers use a liquid feed and do this fortnightly until the plants begin to show colour.

How long do they live for?

Agapanthus should live for several years with a good health regime. Repot them every two years to give them more room to grow, if you are growing them in containers.

How big do they grow?

The smallest and Agapanthus will be, is approximately 20-60cm tall. At the taller end, Agapanthus ‘Inkspots’ can grow to a height of 1.5 metres.

Shorter agapanthus plant
Taller agapanthus plant

How long does Agapanthus flower for?

Most varieties of Agapanthus flower for up to 6 weeks. There are some particularly special varieties that have been bred to flower for longer, up to 10-12 weeks starting in mid-July.

Agapanthus ‘Flower of Love’ is a specific variety bred to flower for 10-12 weeks!

Are Agapanthus (African Lily) good for bees?

Yes, they are, particularly honeybees. The purple shade of many Agapanthus varieties is especially attractive, as purple is the colour that bees can see better than any other shade.

Agapanthus with a bee

Are they frost hardy?

They should be when grown in a sheltered position. The hardier varieties like Agapanthus ‘Windsor Grey’ have an RHS hardiness rating of 5, which can survive as cold as minus 15°C.

The more tender varieties, such as Agapanthus praecox ‘Albiflorus’ only have an RHS rating of 2, which won’t tolerate anything below freezing.

Agapanthus prefer to be planted in a sheltered spot to protect them from the cooler weather.

Their fleshy roots are particularly vulnerable to frost. So protect them with a layer of mulch, then remove this in spring as the growth starts again.

If you have an evergreen agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox and Agapanthus africanus) then use horticultural fleece to protect them.

Do they flower in the first year?

If you buy an established plant from the garden centre, yes, your Agapanthus should flower the first year.

If you decide to sow from seed, you may have to wait 2 to 3 years for the Agapanthus to flower.

Does Agapanthus need a lot of water?

Agapanthus need regular watering during the growing period, so ensure the soil is moist between April and September. The soil needs to be well-drained so not to overwater the roots.

Does Agapanthus (African Lily) need staking?

Agapanthus stalks tend to be quite rigid, so can support the flower heads well without support.

If your Agapanthus is quite top-heavy, I would suggest giving it some gentle support. Your local garden centre will have specific supports on which the flower head will rest.

Growing it against a wall for shelter may offer some support too.

Agapanthus (African Lily) growing by a wall for additional support

What do you plant with them?

They stand out well against a backdrop of ornamental grasses.

Lavender is another good option for a companion plant for Agapanthus. They both have similar growing requirements and will likely share purple blooms in common.

If you want to learn more about Lavender, I have done a Google’s Most Asked Questions on that beautiful plant as well!


Does Agapanthus (African Lily) bloom all summer?

Agapanthus have a long blooming period, starting in mid-summer rather than early summer.

However, it will bloom into early Autumn, so will keep up the colourful display for later into the year.

Can you divide Agapanthus (African Lily)?

Yes, you can. I would suggest dividing them every 4 to 5 years, otherwise they crowd together underground, which can affect the flowering.

You can divide the clumps of Agapanthus into smaller clumps. Do this during the spring or early autumn. By doing it this way, you will have identical ‘clones’ of the first plant.

To divide them, lift the clump using a fork or spade and then cut the clump using a sharp large kitchen knife.

Dividing a rhizome of an (African Lily)

Will it spread?

If you allow them to self-seed, yes, Agapanthus can spread.

As the seedheads burst the wind carries them around your garden, possibly to sections in which you are trying to grow something else.

Depending on the climate when your seedheads burst, they may not successfully self-seed. It may be a little too cold in the autumn for the seeds to develop fully.

What are the common problems with Agapanthus (African Lily) and how do I fix them?

Agapanthus in the sunlight

Not enough sunlight

  • Agapanthus will struggle to flower without regular sunlight.
  • These plants prefer approximately 6-8 hours a day if possible, so try to plant them somewhere they will have easy access.
Repot an agapanthus

Root room

  • Agapanthus can struggle if they have too much, or not enough root room.
  • If growing in containers, make sure the pot is suitable for your plant.
  • If it has too much room it will struggle to flower.
  • Make sure to repot every 2 years.
Fungal disease caused by overwatering


  • Waterlogging may cause root rot and other fungal diseases.
  • If you’re growing in pots, make sure there is adequate drainage, and stones in the bottom of the container.

How do I stop slugs and snails from eating my Agapanthus (African Lily)?

You don’t have to! Slugs and snails don’t really like eating Agapanthus, so is a great option if you struggle with these pests in your garden.

So, plant them amongst your slug-vulnerable plants, as they may be slightly deterred by the Agapanthus.

Is Agapanthus poisonous to humans?

Yes, Agapanthus contain a toxin called saponin which is poisonous to humans. It will cause a stomach upset if eaten, but only rarely causes severe toxicity.

Are Agapanthus poisonous to pets?

Agapanthus are toxic to pets. Try to grow them in containers, out of reach for dogs or cats so they don’t get poorly.

Agapanthus’ globed blooms offer a great focal point in your garden borders. If you have any questions about this or any other plant you want me to do a video on, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and leave a comment below one of my Google Questions videos.

Find out my answers to Google’s most asked questions about Sunflowers:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas: