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The Agapanthus, also known as the African lily, impresses with its magnificent appearance and noble flowers. It feels just as comfortable indoors as a houseplant, outdoors or on the balcony. The perennial plant needs special care over the winter so that it can thrive again the following year. The plant expert explains in detail what optimal winter care looks like.

wintering

When cold frost makes itself felt in late autumn, the winter season begins for the African lily. Contrary to some advertising, there are no guaranteed hardy Agapanthus species. Some varieties are nevertheless very robust against frost, while others like it warmer during the winter time. When it comes to hibernation and winter care, a distinction is made between evergreen and leaf-feeding Agapanthus species, hibernation in tubs and hibernation outdoors in beds. The need for care varies accordingly.

agapanthus

periwinkle

The evergreen plant with the common name "love flower" does not take a winter break and grows all year round. For this reason, it does not lose any leaves and maintains its magnificent appearance even during the winter months. However, it does not bloom in the cold season. As with most species, the flowering season ends in late August/early September.

maintenance

location

While this species of African lily also enjoys warm temperatures as a houseplant in summer, it prefers cool places in winter where it can stand brightly. Since it should never be exposed to frost for a long period of time, there is no need for this species to hibernate outdoors. Planted specimens should be planted out of the bed soil accordingly. However, if it is too warm, this will affect its flower growth in the following year, which is why it should not spend the winter as a houseplant. The location for the evergreen love flower should meet the following conditions.

  • Ambient temperature between 0 degrees Celsius and 7 degrees Celsius
  • Place with daylight without direct sunlight
  • alternatively use artificial plant lighting
  • dry location
  • low to dry humidity
  • optimal location: garage, basement and garden sheds with windows

pour

Since the evergreen species should hibernate dry and cool locations in winter usually bring a certain humidity with them, the water requirement of this plant is very low and is mainly dependent on the weather conditions. When it rains a lot, there is usually no need to water in winter. If the winter is quite dry, a once or twice watering might be necessary during the cold season. The best time is when the top layer of soil can be pressed in less than a centimeter.

Fertilize

After the flowers have withered in August/September, a liquid fertilizer for evergreen plants can be administered every two weeks until the beginning of October. Before the onset of winter, this ensures that the agapanthus can “refuel” with nutrients. As soon as it is placed in its winter quarters at the end of October/beginning of November or when the first frost occurs, it no longer needs fertilizer until next spring.

To cut

The evergreen African lily does not become woody, which is why it is not necessary to cut it before wintering. It is only important that all withered blossoms and dried-up parts of the plant are cut off, as these unnecessarily increase the need for nutrients and, in the worst case, can weaken the love flower.

Repotting/planting

The evergreen African lilies should be planted out of the garden bed as early as mid-September and transplanted into a bucket. This quite early date is given because this plant variety does not tolerate repotting before wintering. If you plant them early from the bed into the tub, they will have enough time to get used to them before the frosty cold sets in.

If the African lily has spent the summer in a bucket or flower box, repotting is not recommended. This should only be done in spring and only when root size requires repotting.

feeding on leaves

Leaf weaning agapanthus

maintenance

In contrast to the evergreen African lily, this specimen loses its foliage in winter and hibernates with growth stops. In addition, she tolerates cold minus temperatures much better than her other family members, although there are no really hardy love flowers. Depending on the weather conditions, the winter season for the leaf-feeding agapanthus usually begins in November as soon as the first night frost comes.

location

In order for the leaf-feeding plant to survive the winter well, it is immensely important to offer it an optimal location. Basically, the following applies here: the wetter it is, the less it tolerates high minus temperatures. If you stick to the following site conditions, hibernation usually works without any problems.

  • dry location: ambient temperature down to minus 15 degrees Celsius possible
  • wet weather conditions: ambient temperature maximum minus 3 degrees Celsius
  • Light conditions: light to dark
  • planted in balcony boxes or tubs, hibernate in a dark, frost-protected basement or garage
  • protect from cold winds when wintering outdoors

Tip: A film stretched over the plant protects against excessive moisture outdoors. Pine needles, leaves or twigs above the root area provide protection against the cold.

watering and fertilizing

The Agapanthus, which is hibernating outdoors, is no longer watered by October at the latest. If the temperatures are even higher, it usually rains enough and the humidity increases so that watering is no longer necessary. It would also be advantageous if the bedding plant could dry off as best as possible before a wet winter reduces its sensitivity to cold. In the winter months there is no watering at all. African lilies that hibernate dry in the dark should not be watered either. At the end of the flowering season in August or sometimes September, there is no longer any need to fertilize.

To cut

A slight pruning is recommended for the leaf-feeding African lily before wintering. This promotes growth in the following year and makes the plant less susceptible to winter pests, which look for food in the non-woody parts of the plant. The pruning should not take place later than the beginning of October, so that the cuts can heal before the first ground frost and do not provide a target for infections. A cut back of one third is sufficient.

Repotting/planting

We do not recommend transplanting them from the garden bed into a bucket to overwinter them in a frost-protected place. This puts too much stress on the plant and the chances of dying would increase. Leaf-feeding African lilies, which are in tubs or window boxes at the end of summer, should not be repotted before overwintering.

In the bucket

bucket hibernation

If love flowers in tubs or window boxes cannot be relocated to a frost-free place due to their size/heaviness, at least some essential location conditions should be met.

  • provide wind and rain protection
  • Optimize water drainage to avoid waterlogging and promote dryness
  • cover the top layer of soil with leaves, pine needles or brushwood
  • Put cold insulation such as wood or styrofoam underneath buckets that are standing on the ground
  • if necessary, wrap a thermal fleece around it

beginning of spring

end of winter/beginning of spring

Since the agapanthus starts growing again very early in the new year and the hibernation ends with it, it can be taken out of its winter quarters again from mid/end of March or freed from hibernation measures. Should it still get frosty around freezing point, this amaryllis species will survive without any expected impact on its health or growth. If higher sub-zero temperatures drag on for a longer period of time, it is still necessary to wait before ending the hibernation.

Repot after the end of winter

The love flower should only be repotted if it is absolutely necessary, as it is very sensitive to it. The best time is between April and May, so that she can acclimate well in her new soil until the buds grow.

spring cut

The African lily is usually not cut after hibernation. If there are any parts of the plant that have softened or turned yellow due to moisture, these can be removed, as can any dried leaves. If the plant becomes too powerful for you, you can cut back the evergreen African lily in April/May. If necessary, the leaf-feeding specimen is ideally pruned before overwintering.

watering and fertilizing

From April the watering and fertilizing season begins again for the love flowers. Depending on the weather conditions, the soil must be kept moderately moist with lime-free irrigation water to enable the plant to grow vigorously. You can already fertilize with a flowering fertilizer. Shortly after the end of winter, this ensures lively bud growth and a magnificent sea of flowers in summer.

Conclusion

The Agapanthus is not always hardy, but in an optimal location and with a little good care or winter preparation, short-term frost does not bother it. Leaf-feeding African lilies can even survive some minus temperatures. Since this type of plant can be overwintered well and without any problems with the right know-how and provides an elegant eye-catcher in the house, on the balcony or in the garden from spring to autumn, the minimal effort for overwintering is worthwhile.

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