The Q&A Archives: Over wintering Lily of the Nile

Question: I live in Canada (Calgary, Alberta) and purchased a beautiful Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus africanas) in the spring. It has a huge bulb and produced some wonderful flowers for us. It will not perennial here, of course. Can I dig up the bulb, dry it for a couple of weeks, dust it with bulb dust and keep it in a dark place till close to spring??? Any help you can give me would be most appreciated. I cannot bear to see it die and winter is fast approaching.

Answer: Agapanthus (Lily-of-the-Nile) is a rhizome grown in the ground as an evergreen perennial in warmer areas. In colder areas such as yours it should be grown as a container plant, so it can be set outside for the summer and brought in for the winter. In terms of general container care, the plants prefer a rich but well-drained soil mix and moderate to bright light indoors. During the winter when growth is slow they should be watered lightly -- just enough to keep the soil from going dry and grown on the cool side. Ideally, they appreciate cooler temperatures at night say 50 to 55 degrees and cool days of perhaps 65 degrees. During the summer, however, the plants need copious amounts of water and seem to do best when somewhat pot-bound.

If you planted yours in the ground, now's the time to dig it up and replant it into a container so you can winter it inside. Gradually take it inside overnight when the nighttime temperatures reach about 55F and take it outside during the day. Each day keep it inside a little longer than the day before. In a week you can keep it inside 24 hours a day.

Best wishes with your Agapanthus!

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