My Aggies Have Gone to Seed – I Miss Them Already

 

lily-of-nile-mlm-c

I’m missing my Aggies already. My Lily of the Nile, also known as African Blue Lily, but often affectionately called “Aggies” due to their botanical name Agapanthus africanus, have come and gone. We had summer-like temperatures early this spring, so they bloomed earlier than usual around here. They also seemed to last longer — what a pleasant surprise. I always hate to see them go.

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 a 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 7. Although they did not multiply as rapidly there as they do here in Zone 9-A, they did multiply and thrive, coming back each spring, year after year.

Their Needs:

Light

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. We have summer temps in the mid- and high-nineties, so mine are planted where they get direct sunlight from early morning until around 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. The house shades them from the harsh afternoon sun.

Soil

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. Plant them about 8 to 10 inches apart. I began with two plants that I bought at Lowe’s. They have multiplied like crazy. I now have enough to move some to other parts of our yard. This photo shows just a few of them.

aggie-sweep-mlm-c

The Seeds Are Easy to Collect

Aggie Seeds - mlm c

The upside of their going this year is that I got lots of seed from them to spread around my yard. These seed pods are still green. When they are ripe, they will be light brown, and will split open along the folds to reveal small elongated black seeds. I have already sown some new seed for next year.

Aggie Seeds & Pods - mlm c

These are some of the dried seeds and seed pods.  Although they are tiny, the individual seeds are quite large compared to some seeds such as those little specks produced by petunias and lettuces. As can be seen here, the pods will split open and drop their seed on the ground around the existing plants. I prefer to harvest the unopened pods so that I don’t lose any of the seeds. Be sure to keep your seeds in a cool, dark place until you are ready to plant them.

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. In a month or so, new green leaves will emerge, and, in mild climates, will stay all winter. In North Carolina, mine died down in winter but emerged in very early spring.

Lily of Nile Leaves - mlm c

My Aggies are gone for this year, but I know they’ll be back next year, nodding their heads in the breeze.

9 responses to “My Aggies Have Gone to Seed – I Miss Them Already

  1. Very pretty Maria! My Mother in law had these at her house in Northern California. I always think of her when I see the “Aggies.”

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    • Hi, Sherry! Thank you. Isn’t it nice the way certain flowers make us think of people or times in our lives? Lavender irises make me think of my grandmother. Pink roses make me think of my mom. Thanks for visiting my blog/website. I’ll have to take a look at yours.

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  2. My aggies are still growing strong. I got mine from a friend hosting a reunion at her house. They were growing in her garden and were ready to divide. She offered some to anyone who would take them home. She even provided the pots. I’ve been dividing them ever since. I didn’t realize you could grow them from seed. Will you be posting how to do that later on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Barb! I hadn’t thought about it, but I just may do that in a future post. After reading your question, I did some research and learned that it takes about 2 years for a new Aggie grown from seed to bloom. That was disappointing. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I’ve been away from my computer for a few days.

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  3. I love these flowers!!! I had never seen them until I came to visit!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Tiny Flowers | In the Garden with Maria

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