Agapetes ‘Ludgvan Cross’ is an unusual rarity in the Blueberry family, and Rhododendron relative, with gorgeous, pendant blooms that look like little Chinese lanterns. The name comes from the Greek word agapetos which means “beloved” or “desirable.”
Agapetes ‘Ludgvan Cross’ is a hybrid between Agapetes serpens and Agapetes rugosa, both from the cool Himalayas. This evergreen plant grows to about 4 feet tall and wide, with gorgeous, arching branches that emerge from a large caudex. The flowers have a fascinating chevron pattern of red or burgundy stripes on a pale background, with flaring, white tips. This is a vigorous hybrid with more flowers and a longer blooming season than its parent plant, Agapetes serpens. Agapetes ‘Ludgvan Cross’ has weird, marble size, translucent white-pink to purple edible berries. Hummingbirds love Agapetes.
Common names: Himalayan Lantern
Family: Blueberry family Ericaceae
Cultivar: Ludgvan Cross
Native: foothills of the Himalayas
Plant type: Perennial. Evergreen.
Hardiness: Agapetes comes from foothills of the Himalayas where the temperature ranges from about 32°F to the low 80s, and nights are cool. It won’t tolerate extremes in temperatures. USDA Zone 9. Agapetes likes mild, cool summers, so it won’t grow well in areas with very hot weather in the summer. Can tolerate a mild frost.
Light: Part Sun, Part Shade. Needs protection from strong afternoon sun.
Soil: Slightly acidic, Well-Drained, Loose, Moderately Fertile. Sand, Loam.
Moisture: Keep evenly moist most of the time, but not soggy. Avoid letting it dry out completely.
Flowering period: Can be erratic: Early Spring – Late Summer, Early Fall
Flower Color: Red, Cream, Pink
Height: 90 – 120 cm (36 – 48 in)
Spread: 90 – 120 cm (36 – 48 in)
Propagation: Root semi-ripe cuttings with bottom heat spring through summer, or propagate by layering in spring.
Uses: Pot or hanging planter.
Fertilizer: Feed about every 2 months during periods of active growth with a slow release (pelleted or organic) fertilizer.
Tips: A typical soil mix is equal parts of potting soil, peat moss, fine-grade orchid bark, and perlite or pumice rock. An alternative is to use equal parts of coir fiber and perlite, with some slow-release fertilizer mixed in. Don’t add lime to your mix. It looks terrific when placed at eye-level, where the blooms can be admired up close. Agapetes prefers mild temperatures. In warmer conditions, keep the pot shaded so the roots stay cool.
It’s normal for an older leaf to occasionally turn yellow, but if it seems excessive, it may be from not enough nitrogen fertilizer or the soil may be too dry down in the root zone. Use a soil moisture meter if you’re unsure.
Do you grow Agapetes ‘Ludgvan Cross’ in your garden or as a houseplant? What is your experience with this plant? Please share in the comments below!
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