Purple Agapanthus WINS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of Year

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By Jill Brooke

Expect a lot of Agapanthus flowers to start popping up in gardens in the near future. The velvety purple flower variety with twinkling airy petals just won the gold medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show 2023 presented by the Royal Horticultural Society. (RHS).

These lilies produce 10 times more florets per flower head, which is why it has beaten 17 other species in this year’s competition.

Considering that the Chelsea Flower Show is the most prestigious flower show in the world,  this is the ultimate honor.

To be specific, the flower that won in this variety, which translates in Greek to agape – love – anthus – flower – is the BlackJack. Its deep royal purple color is truly majestic. Not only is it a perennial – hooray – but it’s drought tolerant – which is so important right now. Plus, bees and butterflies adore it too.

The discerning jury said the vigorous plant looks striking in borders and containers. That it does. The dense inflorescence and many flower heads make this compact Agapanthus a delight to gardeners worldwide with its spectacular garden performance and extra-long flowering period.

These flowers are tall and dramatic but play well with other flowers since there is so much air in between the blooms.

“Winning this prize changes everything for the world of Agapanthus,” says Peter van Rijssen of Plantipp, who noted it has been a decade of work for this result. “You go on this journey together and ultimately get rewarded with this great end result. The usage, the trends for consumers: everything we’ve worked so hard for. It’s all about teamwork.”

Since I love giving credit where credit is due and want my beloved flower lovers to know all the hands that go into creating these magnificent blooms, here are some of the unsung heroes van Rijssen says helped create this result. Quinton Bean, Andy de Wet. Patrick Fairweather in the breeding program. Also, Hoogeveen Plants, which included Agapanthus BlackJack in the range in the Netherlands and supplied the winning plant. Bred by De Wet Breeders, it was exhibited by Sparsholt College and supplied by Thompson & Morgan. However, it is now only available in the European market. But the company also produces Fireworks, which is available in the United States.

Now it’s time to think of creative ways for this flower – in any color – to be used in your home and arrangements. It will be very trendy indeed.

Coming in second and third were the pink hydrangea serrata “Gotmba Nishiki” and Weigela Camouflage (TMWG15-01).

But neither is as magnificent as the Agapanthus. This was a win that so many applauded.

Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. A flower historian, she is an author and the editorial director of FPD and a contributor to Florists Review magazine. In 2023, she won the AIFD Merit Award for showing how flowers intersect in culture and history.