Peter Pan is absolutely incredible in the garden and I am not talking about sandwich with jelly either. I am talking about Peter Pan, the compact or dwarf Lily of the Nile that is packed with a ton of flower power.
I will confess I have always been passionate about Agapanthus or Lily of the Nile but I always went for the big selections.
Even the name Peter Pan just didn’t ring my bell, so to speak. Now, however, as I look across a sea of blue next to our water garden, I feel so guilty that
I never gave them the spot they so deserved.
The name Agapanthus comes from the Greek words “agape” for love and “anthos” for flower. Growing it will likely generate an agape-type feeling for the plant. Commonly called Lily of the Nile, or African lily, the botanical name, Agapanthus africanus, refers to its origin.
Agapanthus africanus has been in the United States the longest, and it is actually considered an heirloom plant. Then there are Agapanthus praecox, Agapanthus campanulatus and hybrids that lead to much arguing among taxonomists over the correct names of the various cultivars. Stay out of the argument and simply grow them.
Even the variety Peter Pan causes arguments. These small plants reach about 10 to 12 inches in height then sends up a bounty of 12 to 18-inch tall stalks of those glorious light blue, globe-like blossoms. There are more flowers on these pint-size plants than you ever imagined, and they just keep coming.
Most references suggest Lily of the Nile is cold hardy to zone 7. Some varieties are evergreen and some are deciduous. Many of the evergreens can lose their leaves in the winter and still put on a show for summer if the temperature did not get too cold. Peter Pan dies to the ground in zone 7, semi-evergreen in zone 8 and evergreen in zone 9. We got to 18 at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, and it didn’t flinch.
The Agapanthus is in the Amaryllis family. While the plant is listed in bulb books, it is really produced on rhizomes, which are thick, modified stems that grow below the soil. The globe-like blossoms, called umbels, may have as many as 20 to 100 flowers, depending on variety and species blooming from mid-May into July.
As with most of our plants, soil preparation plays a vital role in successfully growing the Lily of the Nile. The rhizomes can rot in wet soils. Prepare the bed by incorporating from 3-4 inches of organic matter and sand and till to a depth of 8-10 inches. This soil preparation will allow maximum drainage and aeration, and will increase its chances of surviving winter. Be sure and apply mulch.
If you live in a colder region, try what gardeners in Great Britain do. Store the deciduous types in the garage or cellar where it is dark and temperatures remain above freezing. Do not water. Place evergreen types in cool, lighted areas and water occasionally.
Best blooming occurs in full sun, so choose a site that receives six to eight hours of sun. Feed with a balanced fertilizer or a 1-2-1 ratio in the spring and again in the summer.
For a plant as beautiful as the Lily of the Nile, there are numerous ways it can be used in the landscape. You could not ask for a better companion with yellow or orange daylilies and or similarly colored canna lilies.
Try them as a patriotic companion with Knock Out roses. No matter your style you are sure to have an area around your home that would be more beautiful if you added the Lily of the Nile.