Short

Alstroemerias are very versatile plants and will grow in different situations. All varieties will flower from may through to the first frosts of autumn and will benefit from the use of a free draining medium.

Shorter varieties such as “Princess” alstroemeria (sometimes called Princess Lilies), “Inticancha” alstroemeria and “Little Miss” alstroemeria, are ideal for the front of the border or for growing in patio containers. Tall alstroemerias are good for the back of the border or for allotment growing and will provide a continuous supply of cut flowers throughout the summer months. “Inca” alstroemerias are slightly shorter but will also give long enough stems for cut flowers, good for borders they will also thrive in large containers.

Some companies sell loose alstroemeria roots (rhizomes), we never do this as the results can be unpredictable, our plants are well rooted in 9cm pots, the result of micro propagation, and as such normally travel well and race away when planted. The alstroemeria plants we sell are named hybrid alstroemeria, the result of very selective breeding and not ligtu hybrids which are inferior seed raised types.

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yellow Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria ‘Crown Yellow’)

Q. My Alstroemeria plants in the ground have thrived so far over the winter. They are lush and green but no flower buds. What should I do now to assure blossoms in the spring?

Lauralee Oster

Chatsworth
A. You have no reason to worry about your Alstroemeria (al-stro-MAIR-ee-ya) flowering in the spring. In fact, they will probably begin budding and flowering again any day now.
I have several Alstroemeria, also known as Peruvian lily, growing in a lightly shaded garden that have been flowering throughout January.
The larger your collection of Peruvian lilies, the wider calendar coverage, in terms of bloom time, you will see. I have several dozen plants, and it seems that at least one of them is always flowering. They generally do not need fertilizer to bloom, although they benefit from organic soil amendments and mulches and prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Leaves may become chlorotic in alkaline soil, where they may require supplemental iron and other micro-nutrient supplements.
In the Valley, Peruvian lilies must be protected from hot sun. As for watering, if they are properly situated, they should not require more than two hose soakings per week. Given too much sun, their foliage turns pale green.
To keep individual plants blooming over a long period of time, never use a pruning shears to remove stalks of spent flowers. Instead, pull the stalks out, in their entirety, by hand. Peruvian lilies have two-inch-long trumpet shaped flowers in pink, purple, magenta, orange, yellow or various combinations of the above, occasionally brightened with white, and petals may also exhibit black or brown freckles. Yellow and orange (Alstroemeria aurea) types grow up to 4 feet, but the other colors are about half that size and the recently introduced dwarfs less than one foot tall. The main problem faced by Peruvian lilies is thrips, a tiny insect that munches its petal margins. I have yet to find a remedy for this pest but do not think it takes away from the overall beauty of the flowers, especially when a bunch of them are grouped together in a bouquet.
Peruvian lilies, by the way, are known for their outstanding longevity as cut flowers, never failing to last less than a week when placed in water in a vase.
While Peruvian lilies are not usually associated with the drought-tolerant pantheon of plants, their South American habitat stretches from the snow line of the Andes Mountains to the desert. Due to their resilient underground tuberous or rhizomatous organs, they are capable of surviving weather extremes and are appropriate for water thrifty gardens.
In fact, you can have a garden of constant color, without having to resort to trips to the nursery every month or two, and without having to be bothered by watering restrictions, by confining your plant choices to several noteworthy herbaceous perennials – that is, plants that may be cut to the ground and then, owing to their underground structures, sprout new green growth within days of having been obliterated from view.
Three noteworthy plant groups, whose color spectrum rivals or surpasses that of Peruvian lilies, come to mind: daylilies, flag irises, and canna lilies. To appreciate the diversity of these groups, I urge you to do a Google images search on the Internet. You will also find dozens of fascinating varieties of these plants through Internet and mail order vendors. Herbaceous perennials are easily shipped due to their sturdy bulbous structures and will reliably take up permanent residence in your flower beds.
Although people do not think of them for their brilliant color, hellebores are the herbaceous perennial of choice for the shade garden. Their colors are usually in the cream to pink spectrum, but Barry Glick, through an intensive breeding program on his West Virginia flower farm, has introduced some strong red cultivars, as well as many interesting color combinations, to the trade. You can see and, if you wish, order many fascinating hellebores by visiting Glick’s Web site at www.sunfarm.com.
Q. Could you please address the issue of what tomatoes grow best in our area?
– Sid and Peggy Malcolm
A. I once interviewed a gentleman who had been growing tomatoes for more than 50 years in Canoga Park. His favorite varieties were ‘Celebrity,’ ‘Better Boy,’ ‘Big Beef,’ the heirloom ‘Brandywine’ and the orange- skinned, yellow-fleshed ‘Golden Jubilee.’
If you are a beginner, I would suggest growing cherry tomatoes, as long as you have a trellis to back them up.
All types of cherry tomatoes, including the golden, pear shaped varieties, are easy to grow.
I would also like to address your question to readers: Which tomato varieties do you recommend for Valley growing?
It is a good idea to start planting tomatoes in the garden as soon as the cold weather is gone in another month or so.
That way, they should be flowering and fruiting by early spring before hot weather returns. You can plant tomato seeds now in Styrofoam cups on a sunny window sill or wait until you see seedlings available in six-packs at the nursery. If you plant seedlings outdoors now, make sure you put flower pots or nursery containers over them each night to prevent frost damage.
Tip of the Week
Many ferns, and all ground cover ferns, spread by rhizomes and are appropriate for the drought-tolerant shade or semi-sunny garden. What you may not know is that the trunk of a tree fern is actually a vertically growing rhizome. Sometimes, all the fronds of a tree fern disappear and you might think the plant is dead. Think again.
You can detach the top six to eight inches of the trunk, plant it in a pot of peat moss mixed with topsoil, and rejuvenate it. Or sometimes a tree fern has grown 8 or 10 feet tall and may only have a few fronds at the top. In this case, wrap the trunk just below the fronds in moist peat moss and enclose the peat moss in thin plastic. In due course, you should see roots begin to grow under the plastic. Cut the trunk below the newly formed roots and plant your detached “tree top” in a pot or in the ground.

Did you know you can now buy a variety of alstroemeria plants from Cade Street Nursery, for delivery direct to your door?

Visit our online shop to view our full range of alstroemeria, including:

  • Indian Summer (orange)
  • Summer Break (lilac pink)
  • Summer Sky (White)
  • Summer Saint (Pink)

Got some questions about alstroemeria?

If so, we’ve pulled together all the information you could possibly need to help you make your mind up to create this one-stop comprehensive guide:

When and where should I plant alstroemeria?

The best time to plant Alstroemeria is in the late spring/early summer months. April, May and the beginning of June are ideal, but you can just about get away with going up to August will be fine as well.

This gives the plant plenty of time to get properly established during its first summer in your garden.

Ideally, they should be planted in part of the garden that is reasonably sheltered and where they will receive a good amount of sunlight.

Aim to position each plant about 2 feet (approximately 60 centimetres) from each other, keeping the top of the compost in the pot just below the surface of the soil when planting.

What colours can alstroemeria come in?

Alstroemeria comes in a variety of colours including white, yellow, red, orange, purple and pink. The petals can often have contrasting colour patterns and speckled throats.

What does ‘alstroemeria’ mean?

Originating from South America and otherwise known as the ‘Peruvian Lily’ or ‘Lily of the Incas’, it is named after a Swedish baron named Claus von Alstromer, who brought the seeds back to Europe in the mid-1700s.

What does the alstroemeria flower represent?

This flower symbolises friendship, while each of the six Alstroemeria petals supposedly representing a special characteristic: understanding, humour, patience, empathy, commitment and respect.

Is alstroemeria evergreen or perennial?

The Alstroemeria that we sell are a perennial plant and will die back in the winter. Garden alstroemeria will be best suited to a perennial plant border.

Can you grow alstroemeria in pots?

Yes you can. Make sure that the pot you are planting the alstroemeria into is big enough to keep the plant moist in warm weather.

You will also need to add a support (such as a length of garden cane) to the plant for the alstroemeria stem, which can reach up to a metre in height. When growing in pots move the pot to a sheltered position in winter as plants in pots are less protected from freezing conditions.

What soil and fertilizer does alstroemeria like?

Alstroemeria likes well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter (compost or well-rotted manure).

It should be planted with a general granule fertiliser at planting and then use a general liquid feed when the plant is established.

When does alstroemeria flower?

The ‘Summer’ alstroemeria series flower from June to October.

When should I divide, cut back or move my alstroemeria?

For dividing and moving alstroemeria it is best to do this early in the spring, ensuring that you take all the roots out when lifting the plant to give it the best possible chance to re-establish itself in its new home.

For cutting back the alstroemeria, take care to pull the stems from the plant when harvesting the flowers, rather than cutting them from the base of the plant.
When it has died back in the winter months, it can then be tidied up by cutting the stems back to the base.

What should I feed my alstroemeria?

To ensure the growth of a healthy flower from the start, use a solid base fertilizer when planting the alstroemeria.

Going forward, use a liquid fertiliser every two to three weeks of the growing season.

How long will alstroemeria last?

Being long-lived perennials, when planted in the garden alstroemeria can last for many years.

Flower cuttings are also fairly long-lived, lasting over two weeks when in a vase.

Do cats/dogs/rabbits/deer eat alstroemeria?

Alstroemeria contains a toxin called tulipalin, which is potentially harmful to all animals.

However, the taste of the alstroemeria is not pleasant for animals, so they should leave them well alone.

Alstroemeria Care Guide: How to Grow Alstroemeria

Watering

Established plants are drought tolerant, but they should be watered in dry periods, especially in their first two summers. Frequent watering will encourage free flowering, but never waterlog the soil or compost.

Container-grown plants require frequent watering to maintain moisture to the roots and to help cool the tuber in pots kept in direct sunlight.

Soil conditions

Alstroemeria will thrive in most soil types so long as it has good drainage. The ideal is an organic-rich, free-draining loam that is either neutral or slightly acidic. Very heavy clay soils are not suitable, though moderately heavy soils can be improved with compost, well-rotted manure or gravel. Very sandy, free draining should be improved with organic matter to improve its moisture-retention, and the plants watered more frequently, especially in the summer after planting.

Fertilisers

Provide a high potash fertiliser such as a liquid tomato feed weekly during the flowering season.

Re-potting

Alstroemeria can be grown in containers, and the dwarf varieties such as Alstroemeria inticancha ‘Dark Purple’ are ideal. Pots should be at least 40cm in diameter, filled with a good quality peat-based or John Innes No 2 compost with a good handful of horticultural grit. They will need frequent watering, and feeding once per week with a high-potash liquid feed once the first flower buds form. The pots can be kept outside through the summer once established, or plants can be raised and kept permanently in an unheated greenhouse to extend the flowering and cutting season. The containers will need to be kept in a frost-free place to protect the tubers during the winter.

The taller varieties can be raised in pots, but they will grow taller if raised under glass, and containers will need to be selected carefully. The tallest may grow up to 1.5m and risk becoming top heavy. At this height they will need to be staked or grown against nets.

Water pots in the greenhouse well throughout the summer to keep the plants blooming, provide shading from the hottest sun, and ensure good ventilation. Thin the stems of a vigorous pot plant once a month by pulling out weaker stems and any that reach a metre tall without forming flower buds.

The plants can be re-potted every second year into a larger pot if necessary, but the roots do not enjoy disturbance so this needs to be done carefully and with minimum disturbance to the tuber and root-ball.

Looks good with

The brightness and extravagant hues of Alstroemeria flowers are not exactly understated, but they are probably unrivalled for adding a splash of unbridled colour and presence to a garden flower border. A mixed planting of Alstroemerias requires little additional colour, so they are best displayed against a shrubby backdrop or as part of a mixed herbaceous border with some more subtle perennials such as hardy geraniums, Achillea, Lysimachia and the paler varieties of delphinium and lupin. They also work well if backed by taller architectural grasses such as Stipa gigantea or the soft grey foliage of Artemisia stelleriana or Centaurea cineraria.

While not perhaps a traditional English cottage garden plant, carefully selected Alstroemeria can frequently be seen in more contemporary cottage garden style planting, with colours to complement English lavender, valerian, roses and hydrangea.

As one of the best cut flowers, Alstroemeria can also be grown in cutting gardens, either in purpose-made borders or raised beds in the allotment alongside vegetable beds. Rows of Alstroemeria can be raised with other cutting flowers such as Cosmos, Achillea and Echinacea.

Pruning

Alstroemeria does not require pruning, but spent flowers should be deadheaded by removing the whole flower stem from ground level. These stems should be cut off in the first flowering season, but in subsequent years they can be pulled out from the base as the flowers fade, as they will respond to the damage by sending up more flower stems. For the same reason, flowers taken for the vase should be pulled from the base rather than being cut off.

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Alstroemeria, also known as Peruvian, parrot, or princess lily, as well as lily of the Incas, is an exceptional cutting garden flower in the Alstroemeriaceae family.

There are about 80 species native to South America, with the greatest diversity in Chile. Thanks to today’s hybrids and cultivars, there’s a rainbow of options available for the home gardener.

Photo by Allison Sidhu.

Most of the species are perennial, and they grow year-round in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. With a little mulch in winter, you may even have success in adjacent zones. Let’s find out all we can and then see where to buy some of our own.

A Floral Designer’s Favorite

Alstroemeria is prized by professionals and amateurs alike because of its striking, azalea-like blossoms.

It comes in an extensive color palette and has a long vase life. Sturdy stems support hefty clusters of vividly-colored petals that are often striated or flecked by contrasting colors.

In addition, the foliage twists in a unique way so that the underside becomes the top surface. There’s a band of leaves just beneath the blossoms, and then more alternating down the stem.

To display cut flowers in a vase, remove all stem foliage but the top cluster. This serves two purposes: the water stays clean longer, and the flowers receive more hydration.

Photo by Allison Sidhu.

Once picked, Peruvian lily lasts a good two weeks in water. My first experience with it was using it as a filler flower among larger specimens in tall vases, as well as a stand-alone in small bud vases and bubble bowls.

A Note of Caution: You should always wear gloves when handling this plant. It contains levels of toxicity that may cause illness if ingested, or an allergic reaction with skin contact.

Would you like to make your own centerpieces for dinner parties? Why not start a cutting garden? Maybe you already enjoy arranging foliage from your yard. If so, this is an exceptional flower that you need to plant.

Sowing a Stunner

To grow this prolific bloomer, find a sunny to partly shady location.

The temperate climate of southern California is the perfect setting for perennial Alstroemeria, where it readily naturalizes. Photo by Allison Sidhu.

The soil should be of good quality and on the loose side, so it drains well. Enrich it with compost and add a little sand if necessary.

From Rootstock

Mound the soil to promote drainage as you would to grow squash. Place the tuberous rootstock on the mound and cover it with earth. If there are stems or shoots, they should be upright and visible above the ground.

Alstroemeria’s vigorous roots produce “colonies” of plants. Photo by Allison Sidhu.

Tamp the soil down gently to secure the rootstock in place, water, and tamp down again. Maintain even moisture, but don’t let the soil get soggy.

From Seed

Some folks plant seed instead, but often it fails to germinate. The trouble starts once it’s harvested from spent blossoms.

You see, in nature, seed dries out completely and then undergoes a period of wetness, cold, and tumbling about all winter long. It’s this “cold stratification” that enables it to break dormancy and sprout.

To replicate this natural process, you might try the following:

  1. Harvest mature seed.
  2. Let the seed dry for several months.
  3. Soak seed overnight.
  4. Scarify by rubbing the surface slightly with an emery board.
  5. Sow in the fall.

As an alternative, you can also provide the necessary period of chilling indoors.

According to Julie Thompson-Adolph in her book Starting & Saving Seeds: Grow the Perfect Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, and Flowers for Your Garden, you can fill a bag or container with seed starting mix, moisten it, and add seeds that have been given plenty of time to fully dry.

Place it in the refrigerator for two to four weeks to replicate outdoor conditions before sprouting indoors, and be sure to keep the potting medium moist throughout.

Starting & Saving Seeds, available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

We haven’t tried this particular method for this species ourselves, and time requirements on cold stratification may vary depending on the cultivar. Sounds like a fun winter project to experiment with, and determine what provides the best germination rate for your collected seeds!

Keep in mind that purchased seeds should come already stratified, and ready for planting.

Photo by Allison Sidhu.

Whenever I start plants from seed, I like to sprout them indoors in egg cartons or seed starting containers. Using a mixture of sand, perlite, and vermiculite is recommended, to promote drainage.

When your seedlings are about two inches tall, transplant them outdoors to the garden or a container with good drainage holes, and remember – pots dry out a lot faster than the ground.

Allow one to two feet of space per plant. Some bloom in the first year, most by the second.

A Note on Hybrid Plants: Some hybrids do not produce seed at all. They are propagated by the division of their rootstock and bred this way so as not to become invasive. You may divide plants in spring to thin them out, make new plants for other locations, share with friends, or all three!

These plants take time to establish. Help them along with regular watering and a periodic application of slow-release fertilizer. Choose one with a low nitrogen content to avoid a proliferation of foliage with few blooms.

Photo by Allison Sidhu.

A fun-fact about Peruvian Lily is that it naturally produces some stems that are purely vegetative (non-sexual), while others produce blossoms. With diligent care, by the second year, you’ll enjoy blossoms from summer through fall. And the best part – the blooming is continuous.

In some regions, like southern California, many plants have jumped bed and border perimeters to naturalize in the wild. You can avoid this by “deadheading” spent blossoms to prevent seed fall.

Pick the entire stem at its base, and don’t just remove the top, just in case there’s still some oomph left to make more stems and flowers before season’s end.

Where to Buy

Are you ready to buy some Alstroemeria plants for your gardens or containers? Check out these beauties!

‘Indian Summer,’ available from Burpee

Enjoy all the colors of a summer sunset with the golden-hued petals and bronze foliage of ‘Indian Summer.’ This 30-inch-tall, 24-inch-wide stunner that’s winter hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6.

‘Summer Breeze,’ available from Burpee

‘Summer Breeze’ is a marvel, with its orange-yellow blossoms and variegated foliage. It’s 30 inches tall by 24 inches wide at maturity, and winter hardy to Zone 6.

‘Colorita Elaine,’ available from Burpee

Pink with gold and maroon dots and dashes, ‘Colorita Elaine’ is a dwarf variety that reaches a height of 14 inches at maturity.

‘Colorita Claire,’ available from Burpee

‘Colorita Claire’ is snowy white dwarf variety that is sure to delight at 14 inches tall.

‘Colorita Ariane,’ available from Burpee

‘Colorita Ariane’ is another favorite. This 14-inch dwarf with freckled yellow faces on each blossom is perfect for the garden or container.

A. psittacina, available from Amazon

At three feet tall, A. psittacina is a red and yellow beauty. This species will appreciate some staking, and may overwinter as far north as Zone 6.

Flower Harvesting

When your plants are well established, they will begin to “colonize,” forming numerous mounds along a series of fleshy rhizomes. Each new plant stem that grows shoots straight up from these tuberous roots.

Photo by Allison Sidhu.

As a matter of fact, you can stimulate plant growth each time you want cut flowers. Here’s how:

Instead of cutting stems at random places with shears, pluck each one at its base, close to the rootstock, to encourage the growth of new shoots. Easy! Then use shears to cut stems to desired lengths.

The exception to this practice is if you’re lucky enough to have flowers in the first year, in which case some folks recommend trimming near the base with shears to prevent uprooting a new plant.

Overwintering Tips

There are deciduous and evergreen varieties of Alstroemeria available, with some dropping leaves and others retaining them throughout the dormant winter season.

In the temperate zones favored by this plant, you may like the visual interest provided by foliage that lasts year-round. If you are in a fringe zone, pack some mulch around your plants and they may surprise you by holding up just fine.

If you are growing in containers where the winters are harsh, bring them inside before the first frost. Place your pots in a cool location with filtered sunlight, and water often enough to keep the soil from completely drying out.

You may also dig tubers from the earth and bring them inside in pots of soil. However, they don’t like to be disturbed, and you may end up breaking them.

The alternative is to grow Peruvian lily as an annual and replace it with a new and exciting variety, or your all-time favorite, each season.

When spring returns and the frost warnings have passed, divide large clumps of rootstock as desired. Plant them, gradually move indoor containers outside to harden off, and resume regular watering with good drainage at this time.

Troubleshooting

You should have few disease and pest issues. If aphids, spider mites, or white flies appear, it’s probably because of over- or under-watering, and the stress both can cause.

Holes in the leaves may be a warning of pest infestation.

In the event of over-watering, the roots may rot, snails and their kin may move in, and the plant may be unrecoverable. If you are under-watering, yellow leaves should give you a heads up in time to ward off pests and vulnerability to disease.

Keep an insecticidal soap on hand, just in case.

Here’s a tip: If you’re in for an unusually hot spell, water well and mound mulch around your plants to help keep the ground cool. Otherwise, your flowers may not be as plentiful.

Something for Everyone

Choices abound when it comes to the vibrant color combinations of Peruvian lily, from 10-inch dwarf varieties to the renowned Ligtu hybrid series with specimens topping out as tall as five feet.

Photo by Allison Sidhu.

And in addition to being gorgeous, the deep speckled throats of Alstroemeria attract beneficial pollinators, for a lively backyard habitat.

So, what will it be? An assortment of dwarf varieties along a border, tall specimens to anchor the back of a bed, or maybe both? Tell us more about what’s growing in your garden in the comments below.

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Photos by Allison Sidhu © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Cool Springs Press, Burpee, and Seeds, Bulbs, Plants & More. Uncredited photos via . With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

Alstroemeria, Lily of Peru

Beautifully spotted and marked perennials, alstroemerias, or lilies of Peru, are lily-like flowers with deep, thick roots. They grow two to three feet tall on strong, branched stems. Each trumpet-shaped flower is an inch or two in diameter. Flowers come in pink, rose, purple, yellow, cream, orange, and white and are spotted or streaked with contrasting colors.

How to grow: Provide a sunny location in areas with cool summers, but in Florida and other hot summer regions, plant in shade. The roots must be well below the surface of the soil or the plants will not last long. Enrich soil with compost and manure. If soil is not well drained, or if you live in a cold climate where plants are not hardy, grow them in pots in well-drained soil. Store the root-filled pots indoors in a moderately cool but not freezing place for winter, and set them outside again in spring after the danger of frost passes.

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Propagation: By division and also from seed, which is very slow (1 to 12 months) to germinate.

Uses: Excellent in garden containers and in flowerbeds and borders. They are long-lasting as cut flowers and are often seen on restaurant tables.

Scientific name: Alstroemeria species

Want more information? Try these:

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  • Annual Flowers. Complement your perennials with these great annual flowers. We’ve organized them by color, sunlight, soil type, and height to make it easy to plan your garden.

Alstroemeria

Alstroemeria

The cut flower of all cut flowers, alstroemeria is a staple flower in almost all bouquets. With blooms that can last up to two weeks and a color palette almost as wide as the spectrum itself, it is easy to see why. This South American native has made itself into a commodity for the flower markets—and has even worked its way into home gardens.

genus name
  • Alstroemeria
light
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Bulb,
  • Perennial
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 1-2 feet wide
flower color
  • Purple,
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • White,
  • Pink
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Summer Bloom
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Good for Containers,
  • Cut Flowers
zones
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10
propagation
  • Division,
  • Seed

Garden Plans For Alstroemeria

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Fanciful Flowers

The flowers of the alstroemeria plant are so interesting and diverse that they are often likened to that of orchid blooms. You can always find an alstroemeria to meet your design needs, thanks to the wide variety of color combinations available. The center three petals on these beautiful blooms feature streaks and speckles that almost remind you of whiskers. Some flowers come in multicolor blooms with brushstrokes of color. Speaking of brushstrokes, you can craft your very own pressed flowers with alstroemeria’s amazing blooms!

Alstroemeria Care Must-Knows

Alstroemeria is a fairly easy plant to grow. The roots of the alstroemeria form tubers, which are a form of storage root. These tubers allow the plants to store up nutrients and water for times of need. This allows the plants to deal with drought and other stressful periods better than most.

Tuberous roots also mean that these plants are easy to divide and multiply. As the plants form large colonies, it’s easy enough to dig them up and divide them. Make sure there are healthy tubers among the bunch, then simply replant and water well. In general, alstroemeria doesn’t enjoy having their roots disturbed too often, so avoid dividing every year. With some of the more temperamental varieties and species, you may have to go a year or two after dividing with no blooms as the plants reestablish.

Like caring for any perennial, plant alstroemeria in well-drained soil that won’t stay too wet. Because of their fleshy tuberous roots, alstroemeria is likely to rot in too much water. However, they do appreciate consistent moisture, especially during flowering, but once the plants are established, they can handle short droughts without a problem.

For the best display of flowers, make sure to grow these plants in full sun. Many varieties can handle part sun, but they are much more likely to flop and not be as floriferous. To prevent flopping, which is especially likely with older varieties and varieties grown for cut flowers, make sure to have some sort of support or stake to hold up the tall stalks.

Cut Flower Care

Growing alstroemeria in your home garden is a great way to supply cut flowers with minimal care. It’s actually best to not cut alstroemeria blooms from the stem as you would any other cut flower. The best way to pick stems of blooms is to pull the stem out of the flower. Simply grasp the flower stalk at the base of the stem near the ground and pull upward until the whole stem comes up from the ground. This helps encourage the plant to form new shoots at the base. Cutting the stem halfway down (like you might any other bloom) can actually slow the growth of the plant. Once you pull the whole stem up, cut the stalk to the length you need, remove any lower foliage that might be sitting directly in the water, and place in your vase. You’ll have blooms for weeks!

More Varieties of Alstroemeria

Alstroemeria aurea

Alstroemeria aurea has yellow or orange clusters of lilylike flowers on graceful stems 2-3 feet tall. Zones 7-10

Alstroemeria Inca Series

A series of alstroemeria bred for their compact habit, bright colors, and strong stems. 2 to 3 feet tall. Zones 7-10

Alstroemeria ligtu

Alstroemeria ligtu hybrids grow to 3 feet tall and come in numerous shades of pink, orange, and scarlet with a distinctive contrasting stripe of yellow or gold. It is sometimes called St. Martin’s flower. Zones 7-10

‘Indian Summer’ alstroemeria

This variety of Alstroemeria has blooms of orange and yellow that stand out against bronzed foliage on compact plants. Zones 6-10

Plant Alstroemeria With:

Chrysanthemums are a must-have for the fall garden. No other late-season flower delivers as much color for as long and as reliably as good ol’ mums. Beautiful chrysanthemum flowers, available in several colors, bring new life to a garden in the fall. Some varieties have daisy blooms; others may be rounded globes, flat, fringed, quill shape, or spoon shape. They work exceptionally well in container plantings and pots. Learn more about using mums for a fall-flowering garden.

There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage, and they all tend to share beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long season of bloom, right up until frost. Not all are hardy in cold climates, but they are easy to grow as annuals. On square stems with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, or reds that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade and well-drained average soil.

Alstroemeria

Common Name

lily of the Incas, Peruvian lily

Traits

  • Sun
  • Shade

Flowering Season

Summer, Autumn, Spring

Genus

This genus of around 50 species of fleshy- or tuberous-rooted perennials is found in South America, often at altitude. Once classified with the lilies, it is now considered the type genus for the family Alstroemeriaceae. Although they have very beautifully marked, long-lasting flowers, their self-sowing nature and invasive roots can be problematic, and at least one species Alstroemeria psittacinais considered a weed in some areas. Modern hybrids generally have a more restrained habit than the wild species. The genus is named for famous botanist Claus von Alstroemer (17361794), who in 1753 sent the seeds to Linnaeus from Spain where it had recently been introduced.

Appearance

Most Peruvian lilies form a clump of upright stems with mid-green leaves that are usually lance-shaped and slightly twisted. The 6-petalled flowers are clustered in heads at the tips of the tall wiry stems, opening mainly in summer, and occur in many shades. They are often used as cut blooms.

Cultivation

Some Alstroemeria species can be a little frost tender, but this can be managed by insulating the roots with mulch. However, most are easily grown in any sunny position with moderately fertile well-drained soil that can be kept moist during the flowering season. Some species are classed as weeds in some parts of the world. Care should be exercised when handling cut stems, as the sap can cause skin irritations. Propagate by division when dormant or from seed.

Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.

© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards

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