Agapanthus is most commonly known as Lily of the Nile, African Blue Lily and African lily. It has derived its name from Greek word agap which means love and anthos meaning flower so its broad translation is the flower of love.
There is a total of 10 species in the genus Agapnthus and all these species bear flowers that blossom in large numbers, it occurs in small lily-like blooms and they are present in the form of clusters that are formed by bell-shaped flowers. The clusters itself are globular shaped. These clusters occur in various shades from blue to dusky or powder blue to almost purple color and there are some white shades too. The shape of Agapanthus is funnel-like which grows at the end of 2 to 4 feet long and thick stem.
The cluster of this plant normally measures 6 to 8 inches. The flower was first originated from South Africa which then gradually spreads to Western as well as Eastern Cape.
It grows in the shade of other tress as it cannot tolerate extreme sunlight. The anthers of Agapanthus are bluish in color just like the petals and the pollen of the flower is violet in color.
The flower majorly pollinates with the help of bees that frequently visit the area where it is present and the seeds of these plants are detached with the help of wind.
History of Agapanthus
Although Agapanthus is commonly called as Lily of Nile but despite having this name it has nothing to do with Nile River, this plant which actually belongs to the monocot family is common in Southern Africa.
This plant has a long history of taxonomic confusion. It was first included in the lily family then it was moved to the onion family and finally it was given its own family name and now it resides in its own family which is Agapanthoideae.
In 1679 the first plant was brought back to Europe by the early explorer of South Africa and from that point, it started propagating to the other parts of the world including Europe, Asia and America.
It is also grown in Netherlands in small bags and pots as well. Over the period of time, there has been so many hybridizing efforts of this plant that now there are more than 600 different varieties of it and the shade varies from bright blue to white and also black.
Characteristics of Agapanthus
This is a plant that is deciduous and evergreen. The flowering timing of this plant is from June to September, the flowers are blue and white in color and the height of the flowers are between 10-15cm whereas the size of the leaves is 10-45cm. The leaves like any other plant leaves are dark green in color however in some other cases they are multicolored.
Uses of the Agapanthus
Besides being used as an ornamental plant due to its striking flower colors the Agapanthus is also used for medicinal purposes. One of the most recent uses of this plant is, it is used by the infertile people as it helps to cure infertility especially in women.
The plant is also used in traditional medicines. The Xhosa women make a necklace using the plant’s roots which according to them bring good health as well as strong babies. They also use the plant to treat serious diseases including heart diseases, paralysis, cold, cough and chest pain.
During pregnancy the plant is used for inducing pain so that the child is born without any C-section. This plant is also boiled and a thick paste is made out of it which is then used for swollen legs, apart from that leaves are used for tired and swollen feet which in return gives a relaxing sensation and helps to get rid of anxiety.
It is used as a general stimulant for babies; it is used as an effective remedy for body rash and helps in relaxing the pain during periods in women.
Meaning of Agapanthus Flower
As stated earlier the name of this flower is derived from a Greek word which means the flower of love. Although different colors of the flower exist in nature they are not associated with any meaning individually however the flower regardless of its color is associated with eternal love. In Greek mythology, they were gifted to the special ones only.
Also, the ancient Africans used to make a necklace and they were later given to pregnant women so that healthy and lucky children will be born.
But then Queen Victoria added another meaning to this flower and after her, it is symbolized as a sign of hidden or undying love.
How to Care for Agapanthus?
In warmer regions, it is very easy to take care of this plant and another good thing about Agapanthus is that once it is planted then it requires very little care.
In order to ensure success and better growth of the plant, water it regularly at least once a day for about 6 months. Once you notice that the plant has established itself then water it once in a month but ensure that the soil is properly drained.
During the growing season, feed the plant properly. Feed it once in the early days of the spring season and then two months later. Do not use high nitrogen fertilizer as it will prohibit the plant growth and will also damage the roots instead use a balanced fertilizer which is higher in phosphorus than nitrogen.
Make sure to remove the flowers that are blossomed as it will promote new growth and the energy of the plant will not be wasted in seed production.
This plant requires full sunlight so if you notice that it is not growing properly then try to avoid too much shade and cold weather. If it is grown in pots then make sure that during winters put it in a greenhouse with controlled temperature.