If I had to give up all but one flowering plant in my garden I’d keep my Alstroemerias! There’s a reason you frequently see them in vases in restaurants and offered at florists and flower stands. They last in the vase forever! Well, maybe not forever but a long time.
Pronounced al-stro-MEE-ree-uh these flowers are also called Peruvian Lily. They do look like little lilies with their six petaled, trumpet shaped, spotted or streaked blooms. The flowers grow in clusters so one stem is like a beautiful bouquet on its own. They come in pinks and purples, yellow and oranges, white and bicolors…just about every color but blue.
How to Grow…
Alstroemeria will grow well in the ground, or as I prefer, in a pot. I have lined my patio with large pots of them and after dying down year after year and returning each spring, they even came back after last year’s hard and repeated frosts. I have a small drip head in each pot to keep them moist and feed them one or twice during the summer with Miracle Gro. Any good potting mix will do as long as it drains well. They get sun until late afternoon and they are doing beautifully! (I have one in the ground but it’s in too much shade and only blooms sparsely and has stayed half the size of the others.)
Hybrid Alstroemerias have been bred to behave better than the original plants. I have one “non-hybrid” which is crazy big and wild. It takes over everywhere and though the 2-3 foot stems are nice in some arrangements, they flop over in the garden, look really messy and haven’t been my favorite. I keep the one tucked away on the side of the house where it can take over and look messy and no one sees it.
Princess Hybrids are the most commonly available. They do well in containers or the garden, are good for small arrangements and grow about 12-18″ tall and about 15″ wide in my 16″ pots. They’re available at most local nurseries and every spring Costco has plants in 3 gal. pots for $11.99. They come in so many colors it’s fun collect them.
Cutting for Arrangements…
The flowers should be pulled up and not cut. The plant will produce more flowers when you gently tug on the flower stem and pull it out. The stem will be long with the root end a pale nearly white color before it turns green a little higher up. Always trim away the white part to make sure the stem takes up as much water as possible. Cut off any leaves that fall below the water line since they will decay and shorten the time your flowers are fresh in the vase. If you pick the flowers when they are just beginning to open, rather than when all the buds are in full bloom they will last much longer. All the colors combine beautifully or you can make a huge bouquet of the same color from just three or four flower heads.
For more information on growing Alstroemeria, check out this Growing Guide
Photograph copyright Donna Jones