Showing posts with label Agapanthus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Agapanthus. Show all posts

All Atwitter About Agapanthus

Unknown Agapanthus from 2016 blooming in 2017.
About a year ago, I wrote about how some of my Agapanthus were doing. I'd purchased an unknown variety at a garden center late season sale and enjoyed its blooms through summer of 2016.

About a year ago, I divided its root system into two plants, and one of them bloomed in September, 2017.

Meanwhile, I'd purchased a couple more for my collection. That's me--send me a little luck with a plant and I have to buy more.

One of the Agapanthus I picked up at a GWA symposium/trade show as a sample in fall, 2016. To tell the truth, I got three; they were small. I treated them like the others, its first season beginning in spring of 2017.

Flowers of Agapanthus 'Neverland' have a delicate
purple stripe at the center of each petal.
Although it filled the pot pretty well, it didn't bloom last summer. I decided to turn it into a houseplant for the winter and have been growing it under lights. Guess what?!?! It bloomed! Well, let's just say it sent up one flower spike, which I cut off because it came up with aphids. I guess the little blighters couldn't get enough of the succulent petals.

Although not a deep blue like many of the best cultivars, 'Neverland' had flowers of the palest purple with deeper purple stripes down the center of each petal.

And then there is a cultivar called 'Elaine', which I ordered from Glasshouse Works last spring. This cultivar promises flowers of a deeper blue, and according to Glasshouse Works owner Ken, it's easier to flower than some of the others.

It was ready to practically jump out of the plastic pot I planted it in. I thought I'd best knock it out of the pot and deal with it first. I had to slit the pot down one side to get it out, but what I found were some seriously healthy roots. 
Agapanthus 'Elaine' was struggling to be released from the pot she's been in for nearly a year.

I planted it in a pot about an inch or so larger on all sides, because Agapanthus like their roots to settle in nice and cozy before putting out any blooms. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Agapanthus: From Africa to Indiana

This might be one of the warmest winters on record for the Chicago area. But to a bulb from Africa, it's not saying much. On a 65 degree day in February (yes, I'm talking the Midwest), I decided to check on some of the bulbs I'd attempted to overwinter in the garage.

I was amazed over how well the Agapanthus fared. It had grown and bloomed last summer in a pot that barely contained its bulk. I left it in its pot, cut back the leaves and tucked it into a cardboard box lined with more cardboard and put it on an out-of-the-way shelf in the garage. Just three months later, it's ready to start without me.
Newly repotted Agapanthus is raring to go.
Its new leaves were pale but perky, and seemed not to care that they didn't get any light. It's why they're nearly white--they can't photosynthesize without sunlight. I knocked the plant out of its confinement and, using a sharp knife, cut its root ball in half. Each half ended up the perfect circumference for my bloemBagz planters.   I've used fabric grow bags before and had mixed results, however, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I thought they'd be perfect to sink into a larger planter in order to be able to pull the plant in the bag out later. It didn't work, probably because the soil surrounding the cloth pot turned it into a non-breathable barrier, which led to rot.          
So this year, I'll be leaving the bloemBagz planter out on its own. If it starts to dry out too quickly, I can place it into a larger plastic, fiberglass or ceramic pot. I potted them so the soil level leaves about an inch of material all around.
Bloem has stepped up the fashion on their planters, which are made from recycled water bottles and other recycled materials. It's double-layered yet breathable, so it should be ideal for plants whose roots don't like to be constantly wet. I used two red planters for the split Agapanthus. After watering the plant in, the bottom of the pot became so saturated, and I had to find something to put it on before bringing it inside for the night (Wet roots + 40 degree temps = bad things). The pots eventually soaked up the saturation so that I could put them directly on the heat mat under the lights. 

Here in the Midwest, where winters are no walk in the park, Agapanthus would rather die than bloom.  I've learned that, unless you buy one that is in bloom and/or incredibly ready-to-pop-out-of-its-pot root bound, it will take another season or more before it's ready to give you some flowers. 

The Agapanthus I divided is the only one that has any chance of blooming this year. Dividing it will promote root regeneration and growth after it settles into its new digs. Which is where the bottom heat and indoor culture comes in. Thanks to the unseasonable weather, I was able to perform the really messy job of dividing and repotting it in mid-February. So it has at least a month's head start. 
Variegated Agapanthus in September, 2016.

Variegated Agapanthus in February, 2017
Another Agapanthus has been growing indoors since I potted three small plants up into a clay planter. It's called Agapanthus 'Neverland', and it's basically a short variety with variegated leaves. Last September, I was given three plants in 2" pots to try. I planted them all into a 12" diameter clay pot and have been growing the potted plants under lights all winter long. It hasn't grown that much on the surface, but judging by how quickly it dries out, its roots are busy bulking up for the next round. I will be very pleased if it gets pot bound in another seven months. Perhaps it will bloom in 2018. When you're growing a plant that comes from the other side of the world, you have to be patient.



In Search of the Big Blue Flower

I'd call this a light violet blue on Hydrangea 'Let's Dance Starlight'
Here in the Midwest, we have a terrible case of Hydrangea Envy. It was blunted somewhat when 'Endless Summer' came out, and further alleviated over the past several years with the procession of improved reblooming cultivars. Now there are doubles, bi-colors, and flowers that age to shades  only found in the gowns of the Dowager Countess of Downton Abby.

Clematis 'Blue Angel'




Siberian Iris 'Baby Sister' is what I'd consider blue.
In my neck of the Midwest, we mostly have pink flowers on our hydrangeas. If the soil is a bit acidic instead of the more typical alkaline, and there is aluminum present, flowers will be pale blue or a slightly deeper purple. We don't get sapphire blue, or even a denim blue, unless that denim is very, very faded.
Agapanthus or African lily flowers are very blue.
Not that there is anything wrong, or even unsightly about the blue achieved in Midwestern Hydrangeas. In my garden, blue - any shade of blue - is very welcome.

Experts say true blue is rare in the horticultural world. What we often call blue is more correctly purple.

Sure, there are other flowers that provide a color very close to blue. But until the elusive blue rose is achieved, the largest, bluest flower in a Midwestern garden is the Hydrangea.

There are several cultivars of Siberian Iris that are blue, or at least the closest to blue a flower can get. Clematis also boasts a few nearly blue varieties.

I tried Agapanthus for the first time last summer. Planted in a pot, it seemed to take a long time to grow and even a longer time to open fully, but I officially want more. (Pause here for a one-hour online search.)

Geranium 'Azure Rush' with Veronica 'Hocus Pocus'.
Geranium 'Rozanne' is often described as blue, and in some lights it is, but even when combined with chartreuse foliage, there is more red in it than a truer blue would allow. 

A sport of 'Rozanne', called 'Azure Rush' has lighter blue flowers than the award winning perennial. It is said to be more compact than 'Rozanne', but just as long-blooming.