Agapanthus are one of South Africa’s best known garden plants and are grown in most countries in the world. Their strap-like leaves and striking blue or white flowers make them favourites in plant borders as well as in containers. They are all easy to grow except for Agapanthus africanus and A. walshii which a recent publication (Zonneveld & Duncan 2003) has proposed is a subspecies of A. africanus.
The perianth segments of A. africanus subsp. africanus are thick in texture and the flowers are open faced and range in colour from light to mainly deep blue. Rare sightings of white flowered plants have been recorded. Fires stimulate profuse flowering. After a recent fire in the Silver Mine Nature Reserve on the Cape Peninsula a single white flowered plant was noted amongst thousands of blue flowered ones. The plants flower mainly from December to February. The leaves are evergreen and strap like, about 15 mm wide with an average length of 350 mm. The flower stalk is usually under 700 mm tall. This subspecies is quite common and because of the fairly inaccessible terrain its survival is assured.
In a recent publication, Agapanthus walshii has been renamed as a subspecies of Agapanthus africanus. The authors, using nuclear DNA content (2C) and pollen vitality and colour are proposing that the ten species recognised by F.M. Leighton in her 1965 Agapanthus revision be reduced to six species and the name change Agapanthus africanus subsp. walshii has been published. This reclassification needs further study into the morphological characteristics of the plants to be fully supported.
The flowers are pendulous, often light blue, seldom dark blue and rarely white. The leaves are evergreen, mainly erect and on average 10 mm broad and 200 mm long. The flower stalk is 600 mm tall. It also flowers best after a fire.