The drooping agapanthus is an attractive, tuberous plant which
occurs naturally in open grassland and on forest margins through
Mpumalanga, Swaziland, northern KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Northern
Province. It often occurs in mountainous, rocky areas and is common
along the Drakensberg Escarpment.
The beautiful, dark blue to violet (occasionally white) flowers
are held in dense heads on stalks up to 1.5m high. The individual
flowers are tubular and pendulous (hence the common name "drooping
agapanthus"). Flowering takes place from January to March.
The plants form dense clumps after a number of years with 6-8 leaves
per shoot. The leaves are narrow, strap-shaped, grey-green and form
a stem at the base of the plant. They are usually arranged in a
fan shape and may be up to 500mm long. Unlike the more commonly
cultivated agapanthus, the drooping agapanthus is deciduous and
goes completely dormant in the dry winter months.
There are 6 different species of Agapanthus in South Africa
that are endemic to South Africa, occurring nowhere else in the
world. The botanical name, Agapanthus, is derived from the
Greek agape (love) and anthos (flower). The species
name inapertus is Latin meaning "closed" referring
to the narrow tubular flowers. There are five subspecies of Apagapanthus
inapertus which differ from each other in the shape and size
of the flowers. These are subsp. inapertus, subsp. hollandii, subsp. intermedius, subsp. parviflorus and subsp. pendulus.Various cultivars have also been selected which
are particularly attractive such as Agapanthus
inapertus subsp. pendulus 'Graskop' which has exceptionally
dark blue flowers.
All of the species of Agapanthus are excellent garden subjects.
They are popular throughout the world, some having been cultivated
in Europe since the late 17th century. There are many cultivated
forms of Agapanthus praecox.
They are generally easy to cultivate and require little attention
once established. They grow well in most soils, but will thrive
in a rich, well drained, composted soil. Agapanthus should be planted
in full sun for best flowering. They are strong growing and relatively
The deciduous drooping agapanthus is ideal for a summer rainfall
water-wise garden as it is dormant during the dry winter months
and does not require any water during this period. However, it can
withstand irrigation during this period.
This species is also suitable for cold areas as it will not be
affected by frost.
Agapanthus are easy to propagate from seed. However seeds have
a limited viability and are best sown as fresh as possible. Sow
the seed in deep seedling trays in a well drained seedling mix and
place in a semi-shade area ensuring that they do not dry out.
Large plants may also be divided but this should only be done once
they have formed large clumps. After splitting, the plants may not
flower for a season while they are re-establishing.
The drooping agapanthus is used traditionally as a good luck charm.
Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden
6 February 2001