Tag Archives: Aggies

Tiny Flowers

Some of the tiniest flowers are some of the most beautiful. Because they are so small, they usually grow in clusters, but not always. Some tiny flowers often mimic other flowers in appearance. Take this one, for example. Is it an orchid?

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No, it’s just one of a large cluster of the orchid-like blooms of variegated ginger (Alpinia zerumbet variegata). These flowers and their buds hang like clusters of grapes. This is a hugely popular plant, and my post about how to prune and care for it is my most popular blog post. To see it, click right here.  Please note: No part of this plant is edible.

 

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This one Lily of the Nile, or Aggie because of its botanical name Agapanthus africanus. It is one of my late-spring/early summer favorites. These tiny blossoms grow in large globes called “umbels” with up to 100 tiny flowers in each umbel. For my post on growing Aggies, click right here.

 

Shamrock Flowers - mlm c@

These are the delicate, tiny white flower of Shamrocks (Oxalis regnellii) – another of my favorites. They typically bloom in spring here in the Southeastern United States. Mine, however, are confused by our fluctuating temperatures. They have been blooming off and on since November.

Another one of my favorites is the wild violet (Viola papilionacea):

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These tiny woodland flowers are the harbinger of spring in most places, but here in central Florida, they bloom intermittently all year. They produce blossoms ranging from white to deep blue-violet. Wild violets need shade from the harsh afternoon sun, but can take morning sun. They are native to rich woodland soil, so they don’t care for the sandy soil found here. I grow them in rich black soil that I had brought in to amend my planting beds. They re-seed themselves easily, and will spread rapidly if you let them. If you have a place where moss grows, wild violets will be very happy there. I don’t mind them popping up all over my flower beds underneath larger plants, but when they get into the turf grass (and they will) they have to go.

No Clusters Here:

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This is one of the tiny flowers that does not bloom in clusters. It is the flower of Purple Queen (Tradescantia pallida purpurea) one of many variations of Wandering Jew, a plant that grows in a trailing pattern. It makes a good ground cover, but suffers in winter, even here in Zone 9a. This plant would be beautiful drifting over a retaining wall, or cascading from a hanging pot.

Another Wandering Jew (with small clusters):

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Variegated Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebina), is the version most people are more familiar with. It, too, makes beautiful hanging baskets, and is a good summer ground cover. A hard freeze will kill it, though.

No Longer a Mystery Plant:

The name of this plant with beautiful blue and white tiny flowers was a mystery to me, but two of my readers have told me the name of it (see the comments below).  It is called Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis). The flowers last only one day, but each day there are many more. Many flowers that are called blue are actually a shade of purple or blue-violet. This one is a true blue.

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It was in the yard of a home we bought near Birmingham, Alabama, several years ago. I accidentally brought it with me from Alabama in the pot with another plant where it had evidently dropped some seed. It re-seeds itself easily — too easily. It quickly took over two of my flower beds and a hydrangea. I had to pull it up and put it in the trash. Not the compost. The trash can. It took two summers of pulling up its new seedlings before I was completely rid of it. I’ve learned that it is often considered a weed. That’s definitely understandable. It would be great, however, for a wildflower meadow or an area where erosion is a problem, so I’m convinced that all plants have a purpose. We just have to learn what it is.

Tiny Flowers vs. Large Flowers

Large flowers are gorgeous and showy, but large amounts of tiny flowers can be just as pretty. You simply need more of them to make a nice showing. Many wild flowers are tiny, and would be beautiful in the home garden. The drawback, though, is that they re-seed themselves and reproduce like crazy, so they can become invasive if not kept in check. See you in the garden.

 

My Aggies Have Gone to Seed – I Miss Them Already

 

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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.

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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.