The flower of love – this is how the name of this exotic plant is translated, the natural habitat of which is the dry mountain slopes of the southern African coast. Residents of middle and more northern latitudes know it more as a houseplant, but many gardeners and landscape designers grow it in tubs for outdoor decoration of plots during the warm season. Planting and caring for agapanthus at home and in the open field have their own rules, but in general the culture can be called grateful and responsive. And external data is definitely worth it to make some effort to breed it.
General description of the plant
The number of the genus Agapanthus is small, it includes only 5 species, which were previously classified either in the onion family or in the lily family. It is a herbaceous perennial with a massive but compact rhizome. The foliage of an elongated linear shape forms basal rosettes, from which a long (up to 1 m) and strong peduncle is thrown out. The flowers formed on it are sometimes white, but more often blue-blue or purple, depending on the variety. Inflorescences are umbellate, funnel-shaped, can have up to 150 flowers on one peduncle. However, they open alternately, due to which the flowering process lasts up to 2 months. In a climate of mid-latitudes, it is customary to refer to kad crops.
Agapanthus growing at home is good for health, as it releases special substances into the air – phytoncides, which are detrimental to pathogenic microflora. In this respect, it is even more effective than the famous garlic! In addition, its leaves are able to absorb heavy metals, purifying the air of the room.
Varieties of agapanthus
The following types of plants are grown indoors and in flower beds.
In the people, this variety is often called “African lily” or “Abyssinian beauty.” Valued for a beautiful rosette with many bright blue flowers and dark green, no less decorative foliage. It blooms in June-July, after which, after 35-40 days, seeds ripen on the peduncle.
It is a subspecies of the Oriental with later flowering. An evergreen perennial with up to 100 blue buds in an inflorescence. The leaves are wide, curved, flowering in open ground occurs in the second half of summer.
More moisture-loving than eastern counterparts, in natural nature prefers wet slopes and banks of South African rivers. Leaves erect, up to 15 cm long. The flowers are bell-shaped, expressive blue-blue, bloom in July and bloom until the end of August. Under certain conditions of detention, all varieties can also give a winter distillation of the peduncle.
The plant provides rich material for breeders, since almost all of its species easily interbreed with each other. This should be taken into account when breeding. Free natural cross-pollination often makes it difficult to accurately identify the variety.
Planting and reproduction
There are two main ways to propagate the “flower of love” – by seeds and by dividing the rhizome during transplantation.
Growing from seed
In general, it is a standard procedure. Sowing seeds is preferably done in early spring, even if room breeding is provided. A mixture of fertile leafy soil with coarse sand is well suited as a substrate. Agapanthus seeds are laid out on the surface, sprinkled with a small amount of earth and easily compacted. Landing is moderately moistened. With the help of plastic film or glass, a mini-greenhouse is created, the greenhouse effect of which contributes to faster and better germination of seeds.
It should be ventilated daily, and with the advent of the first shoots, open completely. Keep the soil regularly moistened, avoiding an excess of moisture.
Transplantation into individual containers is carried out when three true leaves are formed on the sprouts.
For faster development of seedlings, add some charcoal to the container.
Reproduction by division of the rhizome
This procedure is not difficult. When transplanting an adult plant, the root system is neatly divided into two parts – it is advisable to divide into more parts only in spring and only for heavily overgrown plants. Further landing and departure are carried out according to the usual rules.
The main difficulty and concern when growing this heat-loving plant in the OG is frost intolerance. The lower limit of survival can be considered an air temperature of +10C. In case of sudden cold snaps or before winter, shelter will be required. A tall box is best suited for this, with which the bush is closed and covered with any heat-insulating material from above. If the flower grows outside in a tub, it is best to bring it to a cool room.
The African lily can winter in the open ground only under cover. But most often they dig it up for the winter, transplant it into a separate container (usually a box) and keep it in a room with moderate temperatures until spring. In the spring, the plant is returned to the flower bed again.
It is convenient to carry the agapanthus along with a tub, which for the summer can be placed in a specially dug hole in the open ground and dug in.
Growing and care at home
The basic rules of care are subject to the general requirements of agricultural technology for heat-loving perennials.
Tank and soil
Often there are tips to plant agapanthus in spacious pots, boxes and tubs. In fact, in a container that is too spacious, the plant will lose color, and will give full flowering only when its roots occupy the space allotted to them densely enough. The substrate for indoor breeding is made up of leaf and clay-turf soil, sand and humus in a ratio of 1:2:1:2. Be sure to arrange good drainage from any suitable materials (crushed stone, expanded clay, river pebbles, etc.).
One of the main requirements of this culture is good lighting. If the plant experiences a lack of light, it will expel a too long, but rather weak peduncle, which, most likely, will simply break. Or he will require props, with which the flower is unlikely to look aesthetically pleasing. Do not expect in this case and lush flowering. At the same time, it needs light shading in the hot midday, which is not a problem at home, but in open ground it is well solved by planting next to taller plants that do not have a dense crown.
The culture does not have a pronounced dormant period, however, in winter it requires keeping at more moderate temperatures, preferably not higher than + 15 … + 17C. Care at this time is not required for her, except when the flower is in the room and begins to bloom. One of the suitable places for keeping a plant brought from the garden is a cellar.
In winter, watering is almost not required, just lightly moistening the soil is enough so that the roots do not dry out. With the onset of spring heat, you can start abundant watering while moving the flowerpot to a well-lit place. Since the soil underneath must be well-drained, watering remains plentiful until autumn. If drainage is not provided, the roots may turn sour, and the plant may die.
Since the culture blooms best and feels in rather cramped pots, a transplant is required from time to time. It cannot be said that it tolerates this procedure easily and painlessly. The flowerpot should be transplanted very carefully, preferably in the spring, young bushes – annually. Adult bushes are subject to transplantation every 4 years, and those that have reached old age should not be touched at all.
Diseases and pests
Of the harmful insects, the flower is most often affected by spider mites and scale insects. From the latter, the use of actara is best of all, as for the spider mite, it is recommended to fight it with the help of acaricides.
The most common ailment is yellowing of the foliage. The reason, most likely, is acidification of the soil due to an excess of moisture. If this trouble has already occurred, it makes no sense to reduce watering and dry the earth – it must be completely replaced. Most likely, after transplantation, the agapanthus will hurt for some time and will not give color. If this happened during budding, it is better to cut the peduncle so that it does not take away from the weakened plant the strength it needs to recover.
If it was not possible to save the bush, you can try to transplant the rhizome or part of it into a new land, removing all the yellowed foliage.