Awesome Alstroemeria, Once The Lily Of The Incas

You might have seen Alstroemeria in a floral bouquet you received but don’t know that much about the flowers.  This plant is native to South America and is also known as Peruvian lily or lily of the Incas. It is a perennial and makes a great addition to any garden. It was named after a Swedish baron Clas Alströmer and there are over 120 species of this plant.  Alstroemeria has become a popular flower for florists.  It is often used in many arrangements because of its beauty, and it can last up to two weeks.

The plant produces clusters of lovely funnel-shaped flowers from summer through fall.  Each cluster contains up to 15 flowers and the flowers measure 2 ½ inches wide.  They come in a variety of colors including pink, purple, orange, red, white, yellow, and bicolor, and have five to seven long stamens.  The plant is recognized for its speckled throats which provide a contrasting color pattern.  Alstroemeria grows 24 – 36 inches tall.  The green leaves are lance-shaped and are 3-inches long. 

With its improved cold hardiness, alstroemeria can be grown from zone 10 to zone 6.  The dark markings on the petals of each flower function to help pollinators come for a visit and have some nectar.  The plant attracts butterflies and beneficial bees.  They are good to have around edible plants such as apples, pears, and plums. 

Alstroemeria is easy to grow.  The best time to plant them is in the autumn or spring when the temperatures are around 65-80°F.  Plant it in your garden or container in a mostly sunny area.  They do best with morning sun and some shade in the afternoon.  They prefer acidic soil that is well-draining.  Water them regularly until their growth first appears then continue to water them about one inch per week.  Once the plant is established, it will not need to be watered as often.  Do not overwater them as this can lead to root rot.  Use a general granular fertilizer.

If you decide to grow them in containers make sure they are large enough.  If the pot is too small, it will cause the soil to overheat and inhibit the plant from flowering.  They may require stalking to prevent them from flopping over.  During the colder months make sure you protect the plant by moving the container to a warmer location.  Plants in a container are more vulnerable to cooler temperatures compared to plants in the ground.  Alstroemeria can be grown as houseplants too.

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