Lily of the Nile are floral Fourth of July fireworks.

Fireworks, Fourth of July parades, and the associated crowds are of course canceled for this year.

Lily of the Nile does not mind. It blooms in time for the Fourth of July regardless of what the rest of us are doing, or not doing. That is one of the two reasons why some of us know it as the ‘Fourth of July flower’. The other reason is that the nearly spherical floral trusses resemble exploding skyrocket fireworks. They are mostly blue, with some white. All that is missing is red.

The bloom in this picture is not exactly exemplary. It would have been larger, rounder, and likely more advanced in bloom if it had developed in a sunnier location. There are enough of them that we do not notice that most are somewhat diminutive. In autumn, many of the overgrown plants will be relocated to a sunnier situation where they can bloom as they would prefer too.

Lily of the Nile was the first perennial that I grew a significant quantity of. While in junior high school, a neighbor instructed me to remove a healthy colony of lily of the Nile that had grown obtrusively large in only twenty years. I could not just discard it, so chopped it into more than sixty pups, and planted it all over the neighborhood. Much of it is still there. A bit of it is here.

Back then, it was known as Agapanthus orientalis. In school, I learned it as Agapanthus africanus. I still do not know if they are two different species, or if one is just a variety of the other. I do know that mine are distinctly different from common sorts, with bigger and rounder floral trusses. The others have straighter stems that support their blooms batter, and finer foliage.

8 thoughts on “Fourth of July

  1. There still are some blooming in my area, and they are beautiful. I’ve never thought about them resembling fireworks, but they certainly do. I hope your Independence Day was a good one.

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    1. I just mentioned to Automatic Gardener that it is weird that they bloom earlier where they start later. They are sort of deciduous where winters are cool enough for frost to ruin the foliage, but they regenerate and bloom sooner in such climates. They seem to bloom last here, although every year is probably different.


  2. They are a bit later here but the buds should open soon. I love them and always grow lots from seed, some of my seed grown ones are better than the named variety parents. By the way, the young plants from the Amaryllis seeds you sent me are doing well, how many years do you think I will have to wait for blooms?

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    1. Wow, you are first to say that the agapanthus are later! Do they get frosted in winter, or are they evergreen?
      I would say that amaryllis take many years to bloom from seed, but have noticed self sown bulbs bloom in their second year. They did not get very big in their first year, and were still quite small when they refoliated in their second year after blooming with small stalks. I was supposed to dig them, but did not get around to it soon enough. I later put them around a big established colony, where they blended right in by their third year. Those that are in landscaped areas where they get regular watering and occasional application of fertilizer do not bloom as well. In their first few years, before their first bloom, water and fertilizer should not be a problem, and should help them grow big enough to bloom. Once they are big enough to bloom, they should get less water and fertilizer.


      1. That is sort of what I suspected. They are sensitive to frost in most climates that are not as mild as ours are. However, where they get frosted to the ground, they tend to regenerate and bloom before they bloom here. It is impossible to know that they are thinking.


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