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Publication #FPS 18

Agapanthus orientalis Agapanthus, African Lily, Lily of the Nile1

Edward F. Gilman2


Clusters of large, blue, funnel-shaped flowers appear atop long stalks in summer and early fall, rising above the coarse, strap-like, green leaves (Figure 1). Flowers make a wonderful display in mass plantings. They can also be used as accents in a small garden or by the patio.

Figure 1. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Agapanthus orientalis
Pronunciation: ag-uh-PANTH-us or-ee-en-TAY-liss
Common name(s): Agapanthus, African lily, lily of the Nile
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Plant type: perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 9 through 11 (Figure 2)
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: mass planting; container or above-ground planter; ground cover; accent; edging; attracts hummingbirds; suitable for growing indoors
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 2 to 4 feet
Spread: 1 to 2 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 8 to 12 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: blue; lavender; purple
Flower characteristic: summer flowering


Fruit shape: no fruit
Fruit length: no fruit
Fruit cover: no fruit
Fruit color: no fruit
Fruit characteristic: no fruit

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance:
Soil salt tolerance: unknown
Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Growing in full sun or partial shade, Agapanthus is usually left undisturbed for several years and will form a large clump, making an attractive groundcover or accent plant. Agapanthus prefers moist, organic soil conditions but can endure drought once established. Plant about 18 to 24 inches apart for a thick ground cover effect.

Available cultivars include: 'Albus,' white flowers; 'Flore Pleno,' double flowers; 'Variegatus,' with striped leaves; and 'Nanus,' a dwarf, compact form.

Propagation is by division or seed.

Disease resistant selections are available for humid climates.

Problems include chewing insects, maggots, and borers.

Pests and Diseases

Botrytis can devastate a planting, especially in humid climates in the eastern U.S. Try the disease resistant selections in the East.



This document is FPS 18, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.