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Cold-damaged Agapanthus


We recently inherited a very large agapanthus (root ball probably about 3/4 metre in diameter) which had been kept outside for its entire lifetime (never brought in during winter -- it is too large to do so anyway). However, the recent cold snap here in the UK seems to have hit it hard and all of the leaves look to be rotting (see picture).

Subsequent research tells me that the evergreen agapanthus are not really considered cold hardy which is strange since it survived 20 odd years outdoors all year round in its previous home (both previous and new home are in South East England).

Any advice on what to do? Should I remove the mushy and rotting leaves -- I can see little flies on them and they smell musty, or should I leave it until spring?



  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze Posts: 5,644
    edited December 2022
    @r.hayden I have a deciduous Agapanthus here in the South Midlands the leaves on mine have gone to a mush, happens every year. I will also clear the leaves when they naturally pull away. My plants are in the ground and I always give them a think mulch in late autumn.
    Evergreen forms need the protection of a Greenhouse over winter. I assume you know yours to be evergreen.  Agapanthus like to be fairly tight in a pot but they also need something to grow in it may be all roots and therefore more prone to frost damage.
    If you cannot get it inside put bricks underneath to help air flow and put it next to a wall.
    You won't really know what is going on until spring.
    I have worked as a Gardener for 24 years. My latest garden is a new build garden on heavy clay.
  • I have an agapanthus - not sure what type. 
    The leaves of mine also rot each winter. Basically, I do nothing with it normally, and it survives each year, outside.
    This year, I felt the root ball was getting too large for its location, so carefully dug it up, and divided it into nine sections. One I replanted in the same place as the original, four are in other locations around the garden, and four are in pots, to give away if they survive - which they have done so far.
    It should recover.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,877
    It looks like an evergreen variety which has been hit by prolonged frost. 
    It'll bounce back. Keep some fleece, old net curtains, duvet cover etc ready if we have another really cold spell.
  • Thanks everyone. Sounds like it should hopefully bounce back. I will leave it for now and remove the leaves if and when they pull away easily.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,905
    Like many plants - it's prolonged wet cold  [especially wet/freeze/that and repeat] that does far more damage than dry cold.
    It'll be fine  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • bédébédé Posts: 3,074
    edited December 2022
    Evergreen agapanthuses are not frost-hardy.  Mine in pots get moved to a cold greenhouse, where I admit that this December they have been touched.

    Let's hope that the roots have not been affected.  Not too late to mulch now in case of more hard weather.

    They have a big plant in a rather open border at NT Polesden Lacy.  Perhaps worth asking them how they are getting along.  Or make a visit.
     location: Surrey Hills, England, ex-woodland acidic sand.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • Cambridgerose12Cambridgerose12 Posts: 1,134
    edited February 2023
    I'd love an update on this. My evergreen Agapanthus have survived since 2011 outside with fleece over during snowfalls. This winter during the cold snap I was unwell and unable to take protective measures. All the leaves on my largest ('Blue Moon') have been killed by frost. The bases still appear firm and the roots are healthy. I notice with some varieties that were affected in this way (not in my garden) that new shoots are appearing from below ground. Has anyone had experience of an evergreen variety producing new growth after all the top growth has been killed?

    I ask because I will be having some help with the heavy lifting next month and I could get rid of the plants then if they are really dead...
  • Yes it would be good to have an update , mine looked like r. haydens a few weeks ago. I pulled all the soggy dead leaves off a couple of weeks ago on a sunny day to dry it out, but it looks very poorly still and its been a stunning plant for the last 5 years. The root showing still seems hard to touch. Any advice appreciated. Should I de-pot, separate the bits with leaves and repot or leave it a bit? Will anything grow out of the bare root/tuber sections showing?
  • r.haydenr.hayden Posts: 9
    Hi all, I too removed all of the dead mushy leaves from mine in early spring. I did not see any sign of life and had almost give up hope. However 2 weeks ago I noticed new green healthy roots breakings the surface. No leaf shoots yet but something in the root ball is still alive so am hopeful!
  • Ryan180680Ryan180680 Posts: 202
    I almost gave up on this one, as three others I had were mushy and showing no signs of life. So they were binned. However this one over the last week has started showing new leaves. Which makes me think did I give up too soon on the others now 😢
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