Extension granted on agapanthus in Auckland

To allow for a longer lead-in, Auckland Coun­cil has granted an 18-month extension to its proposed ban on certain agapanthus selections. The ban was to have taken effect on 1 April. Murray Dawson, Landcare Research, reports from New Zealand.

The Auckland Regional Pest Management Plan 2020-2030 classifies agapanthus as a ‘Sus­tained Control Pest Plant’. This includes typical tall-growing weedy agapanthus and cultivated selections with high seed produc­tion.

From 1 September 2023, the nursery production industry will no longer be able to sell popular cultivars such as ‘Streamline’ in the Auckland market, along with many other selections sharing high seed set.

Fortunately, low-fertility culti­vars are exempt – those deter­mined to produce “less than two per cent viable seeds compared to high-fertility cultivars that were evalu­ated under the same conditions”.

Cultivars meeting this test can still be sold in Auckland and are listed on the Auckland Botanic Gardens website at www.auck­landbotanicgardens.co.nz/sci­ence/research/articles/agapan­thus-for-auckland/

They so far include agapanthus cultivars ‘Blue Finn’ (syn. ‘Ecostorm’), ‘Dorothy Edwards’, ‘Kath’, ‘Ma­rina’, ‘Rachel’ and ‘Thunder Storm’.

These proven “eco-friendly” se­lections can be marketed under the Ecopanthus trademark to show they have passed the seed set trials. The list will be updated if other selections are proven to produce less than two per cent seed set.

2021–22 trials at Auckland and Christchurch botanic gardens are soon to be completed, and further trials are planned at several bo­tanic gardens for 2022–23. These trials are expected to add newly approved cultivars to this work­ing list.

There is no doubt that agapan­thus can be highly invasive in Auckland and other regions. Ex­empting low seed set selections from the current RPMP can be seen as a win-win for the environ­ment and the plant production industry.

To find out more about agapan­thus and other pests in the Auckland region, including up-to-date phase-out dates, visit Pest Search at www.tiakitamaki­makaurau.nz/protect-and-re­store-our-environment/pests-in-auckland/home/

Acknowledgement: Reproduced with permission from Commercial Horticulture (April-May, 2022).

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