How Do I Get Rid of Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus)?

Agapanthus are beautiful plants, and I’m sure many of you would have proudly shown them off to your friends. But, after a couple of months or even a year, you might find them overtaking their allocated space. 

They now seem to be at war with the other garden plants for space and seem to have become invasive! So in light of that, we will now look at options of completely eradicating Agapanthus.

Usually, a combination of manual and chemical methods works best for getting rid of Lily of the Nile. You can dig it up, solarize, smother, or use chemicals. 

If you are growing Lily of the Nile, you need to know why agapanthus leaves curl and solutions to fix it. 

Manual Methods

If your agapanthus is limited to just a few, a manual removal won’t be too much of a trouble. There are three ways to get rid of agapanthus plants by just putting in the labor. So, you can choose the one that suits you!   

1- Digging Up Agapanthus

If you do not have a large area of agapanthus to get rid of, you could just dig them up with a spade. After this, you can dispose of them but first, leave them in the sun to dry up. 

Be mindful, ensure you dig up all the rhizomes as they can still grow from these parts. 

On the other hand, large areas of the agapanthus will have to be mowed over to decrease the amount of labor required. Repeat this several times. The roots need foliage to survive and without them will die in a few weeks.

How to Get Rid of Lily of the Nile Through Digging Up?

  • Get a shovel/spade and dig into the soil around your agapanthus at an angle. 
  • Push it in as deep as possible and loosen the soil around the plant. However, you must continue doing this until you circle the entire plant. 
  • Once the soil is loose, extract the plant and make sure to get all the roots, bulbs, and rhizomes. 
  • Leave the whole plant out in the sun to dry until you see yellow agapanthus leaves, a sign that they are dead. You can then get rid of the plant’s remains. 

You will have to be vigilant and check that they do not regrow as they are drought resistant and hardy. Digging up or mowing over the agapanthus is an eco-friendly and non-invasive way to get rid of your agapanthus. 

It just depends on whether or not you are up for a physical challenge!  

2- Smothering Lily of the Nile

If you are not comfortable with digging, a less laborious method would be smothering. Basically, it works by suffocating the agapanthus plants of air, sun, and nutrients.    

This method may take longer than digging them up but it may be more effective especially when your agapanthus occupies a larger area. 

How to Get Rid of Lily of the Nile Through Smothering?

  • Cut your agapanthus plant down to the lowest setting using a mower. 
  • Cover the plants still in the ground with a layer or two of cardboard or a thick layer of newspapers. 
  • Sprinkle water onto the cardboard or newspapers thoroughly to wet it. 
  • Then cover the entire surface of the paper with mulch with whatever you may have, bark chips, compost, or wood shavings. The mulch should be fairly thick. A 3 to 4 inches layer will do. 

The plants under the cardboard or newspapers would now have been smothered after 3 or 4 months, with no oxygen, baked in the sun, and no light. They would have decomposed and enriched the soil beneath them. 

3- Sunlight to Get Rid of Lily of the Nile

Harnessing the power of the sun is another way of getting rid of the agapanthus. This option is safer than using chemicals that could harm animals, birds, or for that matter children.

Soil solarization is an effective method of killing bacteria, insects, and even weeds like agapanthus!

Shocked to read that agapanthus are weeds? Read this; Are Agapanthus weeds and how to control them? 

How to Use Sun Solarization to Get Rid of Lily of the Nile?

  • Again we cut down the agapanthus leaves, then water the ground to a one-foot depth. 
  • Cover the plants with a transparent plastic tarp of 1-millimeter thickness. 
  • Weigh down the tarp with weights such as stones to hold it in place. (Temperatures under that tarp will be very hot, 125℉ to be exact!) 
  • In about 4 to 6 weeks the lily of the Nile or agapanthus will cease to exist.

Chemical Methods

For very invasive plants, there are options to use chemicals that will do the job for you.

1- Herbicides Help You Get Rid of Lily of the Nile

Not everyone has the time or the energy to manually get rid of Lily of the Nile. So they can resort to herbicides. Instead, by using herbicides you will not have to wait quite so long before seeing results. 

Using pesticides should be a final solution if all else fails. This method is good for people who have large proportions of Lily of the Nile plants to get rid of. 

Glyphosate is a widely used pesticide that kills weeds and other plants effectively, you should be able to buy it at your garden center or nursery.

It comes in a spray bottle, so all that needs to be done is for you to spray the entire plant, leaves, flowers, and bulbs or rhizomes with the pesticide. After two weeks if there are any surviving parts of the plant, spray again.

High temperatures are the conditions in which Glyphosate will be the most effective way to get rid of Lily of the Nile. 

Note- Glyphosate is a chemical that can be toxic to humans and animals. But, take care while handling with the correct protective attire. Follow the instructions on the label well. 

How To Use Herbicides to Get Rid of Lily of the Nile?

  • Use the spray and mist the entire plant, including leaves, stems, and any rhizomes that are visible. 
  • Leave the plants alone for 2 weeks.
  • Repeat the process again if there are any parts that are alive.   

Does vinegar kill Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus)?

Vinegar is common in DIY herbicides, however, it is not likely to kill the roots and bulbs of the hardy agapanthus plant. So, it may only work on foliage, but may still leave the roots and bulbs viable. 

Does boiling water kill Agapanthus? 

Hot water may work on some plants whose weeds are shallow-rooted and weak. It does not not kill agapanthus plants as they are hardy and will regrow since minimal damage is done to their underground parts.


So, if you have been growing agapanthus plants for a while, you would have noticed how invasive these plants get in the right conditions. Luckily, it is possible to get rid of this pest!

Manual methods to get rid of Lily of the Nile are: 

  1. Digging them out
  2. Smothering 
  3. Sun Solarization

Chemical methods to get rid of Lily of the Nile are:

Pesticides – The bulbs and rhizomes of agapanthus can regrow. Make sure they have been well-treated with pesticides or have been sun-dried well.

With the above methods, you can rest assured knowing that your agapanthus won’t rise from the dead! 

Note- Agapanthus are poisonous and protective gear should be worn prior to handling them. This includes gloves and goggles.