Pruning Agapanthus 【How and When to prune】


I think that almost without exception all gardeners like to have flowering plants in our garden. And when it comes to flowers, there is no way to resist the beauty of agapanthus flowers. This plant of African origin displays very colorful and large flower beds. As you can imagine, in this article we will focus on talking about agapanthus pruning, what tools are needed, how to prune overgrown agapanthus, how to deadhead agapanthus, and more.


As I just mentioned, this beautiful plant is native to Africa, which is why it is also known as “lily of the Nile” or “African lily.” But more important than that is to highlight that it is not just a plant, but that agapanthus is a genus. Within this genus there are several species among which I can mention; Agapanthus africanus, Agapanthus praecox, Agapanthus orientalis, Agapanthus inapertus, among others.

Pruning Agapanthus

In this article we will not stop to look in detail at how to prune each of the species. What we will do is see in general how the agapanthus should be pruned. There may be slight details in pruning that may change from one species to another. Therefore, it would be good that after reading this post you continue to inform yourself specifically about pruning the species you have in your garden.

1. What tools are needed to prune Agapanthus?


Pruning Agapanthus is a fairly simple pruning, which does not require specialized tools. All you have to do is have these simple tools:

  • Hand pruning shears: with this pruning tool you can make all the necessary cuts. The stems of agapanthus are thin and quite soft so you will have no problem cutting them with any manual pruning shears.
  • Gloves: Whenever pruning tasks are carried out, handling sharp tools, it is good to use gloves. This will not only protect your hands from possible cuts, but will also prevent irritation to your skin caused by the agapanthus sap.
  • Hand Trowel or Spade: you can take advantage of pruning to divide groups of overcrowded agapanthus, thus transplanting them to other places. To do this, this tool can be useful for separating or digging up plants.
  • Bucket or bag for garden waste: it is good to dispose of pruning remains correctly, especially if they are cleaning prunings. To do this you will need to collect the pruning remains (leaves, stems, buds, etc.) and have a blade or bag.
  • Disinfectant: it is always advisable to disinfect pruning tools to avoid possible transmission of diseases between one plant and another. In the next section we will see what disinfectants you should use and how to do it.

1.1 How to disinfect your tools

There are many ways that you can disinfect your pruning tools. Here we will see three of the most common and easy to do.

  • Method 1: rub the scissors blades with a cloth dipped in alcohol (ethanol). After cleaning, allow the tool to sit for a couple of minutes for maximum disinfection efficiency.
  • Method 2: prepare a mixture 1/9 of chlorine and water (one part of chlorine and 9 of water). Then soak the scissors for half an hour in that mixture. After those 30 minutes you can start pruning.
  • Method 3: this third method is effective but from my point of view not so recommended. Here what you should do is pass the blade for a few seconds through a flame. This will disinfect but also burn the blade.

You already have the three methods to disinfect your scissors before trimming your forsythia, which one do

2. Overgrown Agapanthus


Like many plants in our garden, agapanthuses can overgrow and become crowded over time. This results in the plant beginning to flower less and having an unattractive appearance. Therefore it is something that we must resolve.

Let’s see below step by step how to solve an agapanthus that is too large.

  1. Assess the situation: to start, and before carrying out any type of pruning, you must carefully analyze the plant. You should look for signs of overcrowding. You can detect this if you notice several stems competing for the same space. Additionally, you may have noticed a drastic decrease in flowering and a lot of yellowing or dead foliage.
  2. Choose the right time: once the analysis is done, if you are sure that your agapanthus is overgrown, you must select the best time to prune it. This time of year is late winter or early spring, just before bud break. What we are going to do is strong pruning and transplanting, so this moment will allow the plant to recover more quickly from the damage.
  3. Dig up the plant: In addition to pruning, you can choose to dig up the entire group of agapanthus to divide the plants. Proceed with care when you are going to dig up your agapanthus, always avoid damaging the roots.
  4. Divide the group and replant: with the unearthed plants, the group of plants is divided into smaller groups. Then look for places to transplant these new clumps of plants. Be sure to properly care for all agapanthus to prevent them from overgrowing again.
  5. Pruning and trimming: with the plants removed from the ground, it is a good time to trim any roots that are too long or damaged. Also trim off all the leaves, leaving the stems 2 to 3 inches above ground level.
  6. Water and mulch: All this pruning and transplanting work will undoubtedly put a lot of stress on your agapanthus. To help it recover from this damage, apply a mulch of organic matter to the base and water the agapanthus thoroughly.
  7. Continuous care: throughout spring you will need to regularly care for your agapanthus, with watering and fertilization. It is best to use balanced slow release fertilizers.

By carefully following the steps above, you will be able to rejuvenate any overgrown agapanthus. In this way these plants will grow healthy again, producing the best flowers. 🙂

3. How to prune Agapanthus


Agapanthus benefits from regular pruning to maintain its health and appearance. But there is not only one type of pruning, we can divide several types of pruning according to the objectives of each one. Below we will see three types of pruning agapanthus and how to do each of them correctly.

3.1 Trimming agapanthus

This is a pruning that you should do quite regularly, it will help keep your agapanthus looking clean and will also encourage the generation of new growth. To perform this routine pruning, follow these steps:

Trimming agapanthus step by step:

  • Identify dead or yellowed leaves: As always with almost any type of pruning, you should take a moment to analyze the plant. You should start by looking for dead or yellowed leaves. These leaves will be the first to be cut. Yellowing leaves not only look bad on your agapanthus, but they can also harbor a pest or disease.
  • Trimming: as we already said, for this task it is advisable to use hand-held pruning shears. Each yellowed or dead leaf should be cut approximately 5 to 7.5 cm from the ground. Cuts should be clean, avoiding tears or damage to remaining foliage.
  • Removal of pruning remains: once leaf pruning is completed, all pruning remains must be collected. Never forget to do this task, since if you leave diseased leaves near the plant you will not eliminate the pest or disease. Pruning debris should be placed away from any other plants in your garden.
  • Care after pruning: after pruning it is good to carry out certain care to give extra energy to the plant. Therefore, water the agapanthus abundantly, it can also be a good time to fertilize. Finally, you can apply a mulch of organic matter to better maintain moisture and eliminate weeds.

As you may have noticed, this pruning or trimming of agapanthus is a fairly simple task. But you should not stop doing it to prevent the plant from looking neglected.

3.3 Hard Pruning Agapanthus

As we already saw in section 2. where we talked about overgrown agapanthus, hard pruning is a more drastic measure used to rejuvenate these plants. Let’s quickly review the steps to follow to do it.

Hard pruning step by step:

  • Dig up the plant: due to the characteristics of agapanthus, it is good to accompany hard pruning with the division of the plant. Therefore you will need to start by digging up the clump of agapanthus. Do it carefully so as not to damage the roots.
  • Division: once all the plants have been dug up, proceed to divide them into smaller groups of plants. Again, it is a task that you must do carefully so as not to damage the plants. You can help yourself with the task by using a very sharp knife.
  • Pruning: having the plants dug up it is good to take the opportunity to trim all the long and damaged roots. Also completely remove all dead or diseased leaves. Finally, proceed to trim all the leaves, leaving 5 to 7.5 cm above ground level.
  • Replant: with the groups of plants divided, and with the pruning done, you must proceed with the transplant. Look for good places where agapanthus can grow without problems. Always look to plant them in soils with good drainage capacity.
  • Watering: To finish, water each plant deeply. You can also apply a mulch of organic matter at the base of each plant.

In a few weeks you will see how little by little your agapanthus will begin to sprout. You can apply some balanced fertilizer to give it a boost of energy.

3.4 How to Deadhead Agapanthus

This is a pruning task with which we seek to promote continuous flowering and also maintain a good appearance of the agapanthus.

Deadhead Agapanthus step by step:

  • Identify spent flower stems: The first thing we should do is take a moment to look for all those flower stems that have already bloomed. You will see that their flower has already withered or they may have already developed the pod.
  • Cutting: Take some pruning shears and cut each and every one of these stems with dead flowers or pods. All of these stems should be cut back to the base of the plant. By cutting these stems, the plant stops “wasting” energy on them and can use that energy to grow new flower stems. Therefore we will increase flowering.
  • Collection of pruning waste: once this task is completed, it is time to collect all the waste and remove it from our garden. They can be good for making compost.

As you have seen, it is a very simple task. Do it weekly during the flowering season and you will have more and better flowers on your agapanthus.

4. When to prune Agapanthus


As we saw in previous sections, there are several types of pruning when we talk about pruning agapanthus. And each pruning has a specific time when it must be done.

That is why we will analyze each type of pruning separately to define when it should be done.

  • Deadheading (removing spent blooms): This task should be done during the growing season. More specifically during flowering. As long as there are flowers on your agapanthus, it is good to do this task.
  • Foliage trimming: the best time to perform this pruning is from late winter to early spring. Depending on the hemisphere where you live, the months will change, for example in the north it will be between the months of February and March. You must be attentive and do it just before the plant begins to sprout.
  • Hard pruning and dividing plants: as with pruning foliage, the best time to do it is in the last days of winter or the first days of spring. This is a task that greatly stresses the agapanthus. That is why it is good to do it when the plant begins to activate. In this way we will reduce the plant’s recovery time.

It is important to note that what we have seen so far may undergo some changes. Whether between a variety of agapanthus or the climate. For example, in areas with mild winters, agapanthus may retain some foliage year-round, so late winter pruning may be less severe.

Over time you will realize which pruning tasks give the best results to your agapanthus and you will be able to optimize the work. But to start, if you apply what we have seen in this post you will not have problems and your agapanthus will develop strong and beautiful. 😉

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