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 Plant Profile – The truth about Agapanthus orientalis 
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Post Plant Profile – The truth about Agapanthus orientalis
Plant Profile – The truth about Agapanthus orientalis

In recent times the plant variety Agapanthus orientalis in general has been given a bad wrap in the press and throughout the horticultural industry. In a recent publication this plant has been noted as being a weed and has been recommended not to plant due to its invasiveness. Unfortunately general statements like this branding all Agapanthus orientalis as invasive are untrue and some recent campaigning from a successful Agapanthus breeder has helped to clear up this issue.

The scientific papers covering the naturalisation of Agapanthus in some localised pockets in Victoria and NSW looked at the traditional blue or white orientalis Agapanthus from South Africa. These plants are robust and produce massive fertile seed carrying flower heads and the plants readily clump. One location at Echo Point at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains NSW is a high profile area where there has been a small outbreak of Agapanthus orientalis. Approximately 80 years ago vast numbers of the traditional orientalis Agapanthus from South Africa were planted in the gardens on top of Echo Point, some seed over the years has fallen nearby and germinated here and there but by no means are there thick pockets or vast numbers which have escaped from the original plantings and have taken over after all this time.

Botanical experts have advised that they do not consider many of the new named hybridised forms to be counted as invasive. The traditional orientalis from South Africa is the Agapanthus of concern and many of the named varieties, both normal size and dwarf forms are high value lines and do not become invasive.

Newly developed orientalis hybrids bred here in Australia such as Queen Mum and Cloudy Days bred by Pine Mountain Nursery both have low seed set and do not clump readily. Future breeding efforts will continue to concentrate on producing Agapanthus cultivars which have little or no seed set through selective breeding practices.

Late in 2009 an expert on Agapanthus wrote a letter to the Minister of the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry in regards to the misrepresentation of Agapanthus orientalis varieties to the general public and horticulture industry and asked that the incorrect information be amended. In November 2009 a letter or reply was received from the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry acknowledging that the Agapanthus species stipulated as being potentially invasive were the native South African or non hybridised Agapanthus orientalis. The department has asked that the text be amended to specify that hybridised varieties are not invasive.

So do not feel guilty about using Agapanthus, as they are part of our gardening history. Agapanthus are a true icon of both historic and modern gardens in Australia, they were recorded in the 1843 catalogue of plants at Camden Park House in NSW, and were likely to be brought from overseas well before that date. If they were as invasive as some of the claims state, surely after all this time they would be causing overwhelming problems right around Australia and they would have been added to the declared noxiuos weed list.

Keep enjoying your Agapanthus and if you are worried about your common non hybridized forms spreading from seed near native bushland simply remove the spent flower heads once they have finished flowering each summer. Otherwise look out for the popular hybridized cultivars which have very little seed set such as the above mentioned Queen Mum and Cloudy Days and also Black Pantha and Lavender Haze.

Click on the links below for more info

Queen Mum ... n-mum.html

Cloudy Days ... -days.html

Thu Aug 30, 2012
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