Agapanthus s the only genus in the subfamily Agapanthoideae of the flowering plant family Amaryllidaceae. The family is in the monocot order Asparagales. The name is derived from scientific Greek: αγάπη (agape) = love, άνθος (anthos) = flower. Agapanthus is commonly known as "Lily of the Nile" ('African lily' in the UK); but it is not a lily and all of the species are native to South Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Limpopo River.
Species boundaries are not clear in the genus, and in spite of having been intensively studied, the number of species recognised by different authorities varies from 6 to 10. The type species for the genus is Agapanthus africanus (shown here). A great many hybrids and cultivars have been produced and they are cultivated throughout warm areas of the world.
The plant was introduced to Europe at the close of the 17th century as a handsome greenhouse plant, and is hardy outdoors in the south of England and Ireland if protected from severe frosts. The plants are easy to cultivate and (in areas that have winter) are generally grown in large pots or tubs that can be protected from frost.
Several cultivars are known, such as 'Albus' (with white flowers), 'Sapphire' (dark blue flowers), 'Aureus' (leaves striped with yellow), and 'Variegatus' (leaves almost entirely white with a few green bands). There are also double-flowered and larger- and smaller-flowered cultivars. During the summer they require plenty of water and are very effective on the margins of lakes or by running streams, where they thrive. They may be propagated from offsets or by dividing the rootstock in early spring or autumn.
In Melbourne they grow luxuriantly and bloom for several weeks around Christmas. They are a common garden plant, but are also planted on nature reserves and verges along roads.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.