Lily of the Nile, a.k.a., Aggies, African Blue Lily

Lily of the Nile, also known as African Blue Lily, but often affectionately called "Aggies" due to their botanical name Agapanthus africanus, are late-spring and summer favorites. These beauties live up to their name which comes from the Greek words "agape," meaning unconditional, sacrificial love (such as that between parent and child) and "anthus," meaning flower.


They bloom in clusters of small blue, violet-blue, or white flowers that look like tiny lilies. Those clusters are completely round, globe shapes, called "umbels", that can have anywhere from 30 to 100 tiny flowers. Mine typically have about 80 - 100. These plants perform best in Zones 8 – 11. However, I grew them successfully in Charlotte, NC, USA, which is in Zone 7b. Although they did not multiply as rapidly there as they do here in Zone 9a, they did multiply and thrive, coming back each spring, year after year.


Their Needs:


Aggies need plenty of direct sunlight. Plant in partial shade or filtered light only if you live in intense heat. I have seen them growing in full-sun in commercially planted areas here, and they appear to be thriving.



They prefer rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil with a pH of about 6.5 to 7.5. Plant them no deeper than they were planted in the container they came in when you bought them, and space them about 8 to 10 inches apart. I began with two plants that I bought at a local garden center. They  multiplied like crazy, so I have moved some to other parts of our yard. Was they continued to multiply, I can now move more.



The soil should be moist but not wet, as the rhizomes can easily rot if their soil is soggy. Yellowing of the leaves is a good indication of too much water.


Beautiful Evergreen Foliage


As they begin to die down for the season, the tips of the deep green strap-like leaves will begin to turn brown. Almost simultaneously, new green leaves will emerge, and, in mild climates, will stay all winter. The brown leaves can be removed and composted. When we lived in North Carolina, mine died down in winter but emerged in very early spring.