The Alstroemeria flower is an elegantly attractive addition to the garden. Sometimes called the Peruvian Lily because of their lily-like flowers, these colorful plants are ideally for inclusion in mixed floral beds or cottage garden planting schemes. Popular with pollinators, they are also reliable cut flowers.
Easy to grow, the Alstroemeria flower is increasingly popular for its prolific blooming habit. With a little care they can be encouraged to flower from midsummer to mid fall.
If you want to learn more about the exotic Alstroemeria flower, including how to add it to your garden, this guide is designed to take you through everything that you need to know.
Ideal in mixed floral beds, the exotic Peruvian Lily is popular for its long lasting blooms.
What is the Alstroemeria Flower?
The Alstroemeria flower is part of the Alstroemeriaceae plant family. There are over 80 different members of this family, most of which are native to South America. The vast majority of Alstroemeriaceae plants can trace their origins back to Chile.
Despite their South American origins, the Alstoemeriaceae family of plants are actually named after Claus von Alstromer, a Swedish baron. Von Alstromer introduced the plants to Europe in the 18th century.
A striking plant, while some types may bloom in the first year, most, with diligent care, set blooms from the second year onwards. Interestingly while some stems produce exotic blooms, others are non sexual or vegative.
Today, the original cultivars are outnumbered by the many hybrid types that are available. Easy to grow these reliable perennials are ideal for including in home or floral gardens.
Different Types of Alstroemeria Flower
There are over 120 different types of Alstroemeria flower, including hybrids, currently available. These bloom in a range of colors including white, yellow, pink, salmon, orange, red and purple. The blooms are borne in clusters on top of stout, leafy stems.
Amongst the most reliable cultivars is the Inticancha series. Blooming in a range of colors, this compact series of plants, rarely exceeding 2 ft in height, is ideal for adding color and interest to smaller spaces and gardens.
A range of colorful cultivars are currently available.
Some of the most attractive Alstroemeria flower cultivars include:
- Indian Summer is prized for its unusual orange-yellow blooms Reaching a height of 2.5 to 3 ft the golden hued petals are complimented by the plants bronze foliage.
- Candy is one of the taller cultivars, capable of reaching up to 3 ft in height. Topped with candy-pink blooms, the sturdy stems of Candy make it an ideal choice for first time growers.
- Lutea produces pure bright yellow blooms which are decorated with brown specks. Lutea can reach a height of around 4 ft in favorable conditions.
- Sirius can be identified by its peach-pink blooms which are marked with yellow and brown streaks. It rarely exceeds 4 ft in height.
- Orange King is popular for its bright orange blooms with yellow blotches, it grows to a height of around 40 inches,
- Summer Sky is unusual for its pure white petals that are marked with pale yellow streaks. Summer Sky reaches a height of 35 to 39 inches.
- Summer Breeze is another orange-yellow blossoming cultivar. In addition to the bright blooms it also produces attractive, variegated foliage. Summer Breeze reaches a height of around 30 inches and spreads around 25 inches.
- Fougere is ideal for smaller spots, growing to a height of around 28 inches, it produces white blooms with pink and white accents.
- Inca Ice produces creamy-yellow or apricot blooms which are marked with burgundy accents. Growing to a height of 3 ft, the blooms sit in sturdy stems. The slender leaves of Inca Ice make it an ideal choice for planting in a border.
The Colorita series is a reliable, dwarf series of Peruvian Lily plants. Colorita plants rarely exceed 14 inches in height making them ideal for planting in containers on patios or window boxes. Colorita Elaine is popular for its pink petals that have gold and maroon markings. Other members of the Colorita series include Claire, a snowy white blooming variety, and Ariane, which produces attractive yellow blooms.
As you can see, there are a wide range of Alstroemeria blooms currently available. Many of these are suitable for using in a host of different planting schemes. While plant nurseries and garden stores will stock some bedding plants, if you want a more unusual or colorful cultivar you may need to purchase the plants online. Growing from seed also offers you more choice.
Ordering from specialist nurseries enables you to cultivate more exotic specimens.
Where to Plant the Alstroemeria Flower
A reliable, low maintenance plant the Alstroemeria flower is best placed in a sunny or partial shade position. Most cultivars are considered as tender perennials in USDA Zones 8 to 10. In slightly cooler areas a light mulch or some other form of winter protection can help to keep the plants for the following year.
The Alstroemeria flower prefers a temperate climate. The plants are particularly happy in the temperate Southern California climate. So much so that many cultivars are becoming naturalized in the area.
Despite their exotic appearance the plants are pleasingly hardy once planted.
Best placed in good quality, well draining soil, these plants prefer soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. The Alstroemeria flower is a tolerant plant meaning that it will tolerate planting in soils slightly outside this range. However you should avoid planting your Peruvian Lilies in soil conditions that are too extreme. A soil test kit is a good, quick way to find out the condition of your soil.
If necessary, before planting, enrich the soil with compost and sand to improve drainage.
Position your Peruvian Lily plants in well draining soil in a sunny position.
How to Grow Alstroemeria Flower
In addition to buying young transplants or bedding plants from a garden store, you can also cultivate the Alstroemeria flower either from seed or from rootstock. Growing from a rootstock is quicker than from seed, The process is also less prone to failure.
How to Grow from Rootstock
Planting Alstroemeria flower rootstock is similar to planting Squash.
Mound up the soil, the mound should be large enough for the rootstock to sit comfortably on it. Mounding up the soil encourages excess water to drain away from the plants, preventing issues such as rot.
Place the tuberous rootstock on the mound and cover with earth. Leave any upright growing stems and shoots visible.
Tamp the soil down gently to secure the rootstock in place.
Water the plant and surrounding soil with a watering can before tamping down the soil again.
After planting continue to water the rootstock regularly. Do not let the soil get too wet.
Growing from Seed
Whilst growing from seed is possible, the process is prone to failure.
The seeds require exposure to a period of cold temperatures before planting, this is known as stratification. Without it they are not viable.
Seeds sold in garden stores or plant nurseries are usually already stratified. If you chose to harvest your own seeds you will need to stratify them yourself. Hybrid types rarely produce viable seed. Instead these can be propagated by dividing the rootstock. This also helps to prevent the plants becoming invasive.
Harvest the ripe seeds before allowing it to dry out for several months. Once the seeds are fully dry, soak them in a bowl of room temperature water overnight.
After soaking, scarify the seeds by rubbing with a little sand paper or on an emery board. This helps the roots to emerge more easily.
A quicker method is to put the dry seeds in a bag filled with a moist, seed starting mix and place in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 weeks. This helps to replicate exposure to winter temperatures. Regularly re-moisten the soil starting mix to ensure that it doesn’t dry out. Following this, you can sow the seeds undercover.
Start the Alstroemeria seeds in small, MIXC Plant Nursery Pots or modular trays filled with an even blend of sand, perlite and vermiculite. This is a well draining mix that helps to prevent issues associated with moisture retention.
Starting seedlings undercover enables you to better protect the delicate, young plants.
There is no need to place the seeds in a propagator. Simply place the pots in a light window and moisten regularly with a Plant Mister Spray.
How to Transplant the Alstroemeria Flower
Once the seedlings reach a height of around 2 inches you can start to harden them off before transplanting to the final growing position. The Alstroemeria flower can be planted in the fall or spring, when the temperatures are averaging 65 to 80 ℉.
If you are transplanting to a pot, make sure it has lots of drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the pot with a well draining, peat free potting compost.
Make a hole in the soil large enough to hold the pot that the seedling is currently sitting in. Carefully remove the plant from the pot and center in the hole. Firm down the soil and water well.
If you are planting in the ground space the plants 1 to 2 ft apart. Whilst some plants may bloom in the first year, most delay setting flowers until the second year.
How to Care for Alstroemeria Flower
Despite being easy to care for, the Alstroemeria flower can take a long time to become established in its new position. Be patient and continue to care for the plant and it should, eventually, reward your efforts with a long lasting floral display.
Once established the plants are pleasingly easy to grow and largely problem free.
Snugs and snails can attack young plants. Our guide to getting rid of slugs in your garden is packed full of useful tips and information.
Mulching the soil helps to keep the Alstroemeria flower cool during hot spells.
Taller specimens may require some extra support to help them remain upright. Tying the stems loosely to a Garden Bamboo Stick or trellis provides ample support. This is particularly useful if you are planting in an exposed area.
While taller specimens may require staking, these are largely low maintenance plants.
When to Water
Water the soil around the plants regularly. If you have planted rootstocks, keep the rhizomes wet from planting until the first new growth shoots appear. From this point onwards, apply one inch of water a week if it doesn’t rain.
Once the plants are established, reduce the amount of water you apply. Too much water can cause issues such as root rot.
If you have planted your Alstroemeria flower in a pot, move the container to a sheltered position during spells of heavy rain. This helps to prevent the soil becoming waterlogged and rot from developing. Placing large pots on a Metal Plant Caddy helps you to move them without too much physical effort.
When to Fertilize
A periodic dose of slow-release fertilizer helps the plant to establish itself in its new position. This can be worked into the soil prior to planting. A dose of fertilizer during planting helps the Alstroemeria flower to quickly settle into its new position.
When in bloom, fertilize Alstroemeria regularly. A high potash fertilizer, such as a tomato fertilizer, can be applied once a week during the growing season. This helps the plants to thrive and prolongs flowering.
A regular dose of fertilize prolongs the lifespan of the colorful blooms.
How to Overwinter
Depending on the variety, your Alstroemeria may be either evergreen or deciduous, dropping their leaves during the dormant, winter period.
Growers in temperate zones will find that the plants retain their foliage throughout the year, providing year round interest. Growers on the edges of the temperate zones can try mulching the plants. This can encourage the plants to keep their leaves throughout the year.
If you are growing in containers, move them undercover before the first frost of the year. Store the pots in a cool location that enjoys lots of filtered light. Water just enough to prevent the soil from completely drying out.
In colder climates, gardeners can also dig up and store the tubers in pots filled with fresh soil in an unheated garage for the winter months. However, this method is prone to failure because the Alstroemeria flower dislikes being disturbed. If you are growing in too cold a climate to overwinter the plants, they are best treated as an exotic annual.
Pruning Alstroemeria Flower
If blooms form in the first year, cut them away with a garden shears as close to the base of the plant as possible. This helps to prevent accidental uprooting of the plant.
To prevent the plants from spreading uncontrolled around the garden, remove spent blooms before the seeds have time to form and ripen. When deadheading, do not just remove the spent bloom. Use sharp scissors to cut away the stem close to the base. Aimt to remove as much of the stem as possible. Allowing the top of the stem to remain in place can cause more blooms or stems to form.
How to Divide the Plants
Alstroemeria plants can spread and overgrow their space. To keep the plants in check, they are best divided on a regular basis. This is also the most reliable way to propagate the plants, doubling the size of your collection. Dividing larger specimens also helps to rejuvenate the plants, encouraging more blooms to form.
Allow your Alstroemeria flower to enjoy several years of growth before you divide them.
Alstroemeria is best divided in the spring after the last frost has passed.
Begin by cutting the plant down to a height of about 6 inches above the ground. This should be done around 10 days before you want to divide.
Next, carefully dig around the plant before lifting the bulbs. Working outwards from the crown helps to limit damage to the fragile roots. Try to lift as much of the plant and root as possible.
After lifting the plant, shake off any excess soil. You should be able to clearly see the entire root.
Remember that these are fragile plants. Handle carefully loosening and breaking the root mass into sections. A sharp knife may be useful to make clean, clear cuts.
Replant the divisions as quickly as possible to avoid further damage to the roots. Plant as described above before watering well. You can also overwinter the divisions in large pots before planting out the following year.
Do not allow the plants to dry out whilst they settle in their new home. After 10 to 15 weeks new growth and, possibly, blooms should emerge.
How to Repot Alstroemeria Flower
Specimens growing in pots require regular repotting. Signs that your plants are becoming rootbound and they need to be transplanted to fresh soil include slow growth, flowering not as prolifically as in previous years or the soil drying out more quickly than usual.
To repot, water the soil well. Water until excess moisture starts to emerge from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Soaking the soil thoroughly helps to keep the soil intact when removing.
Fill your new container with fresh, well draining potting soil.
Next remove the plant and as much of the surrounding soil as possible. If possible, gently spread the roots out as you position the plant in its new pot.
Pack more fresh, potting soil carefully around the plant. Water, applying around 1 inch of water evenly around the plant. Continue to water once every 2 to 3 days until the plants are established. This usually takes around 3 weeks.
Common Alstroemeria Flower Pests and Problems
In favorable positions these are low maintenance, problem free plants.
Most mammals and herbivores tend to leave the Alstroemeria flower alone due to the plant’s semi-toxic leaves.
Regularly check the foliage for signs of infestation. Common pests such as aphids, whiteflies and spider mites can attack if the plants are watered either too much or too little. An incorrect watering routing can stress the plants, weakening them and leaving them prone to infestations.
If infestations do develop, wipe neem oil onto the leaves. If you have never used neem oil to treat plant infestations, our guide to using neem oil on plants is designed to take you through the entire process. A homemade insecticidal soap can also be used.
As we have already noted, overwatering the soil can cause it to become waterlogged, rotting the roots of the Alstroemeria flower. A soil moisture sensor provides an accurate means to gauge the water content in your soil.
Root rot, commonly caused by overwatering, causes the basal stems to dry out and wither. It may also blacken the root while the foliage wilts and growth becomes stunted.
While overwatering can cause issues, too little water can also be problematic. Foliage yellowing provides an early indication that your plants require more water.
Keeping the foliage as dry as possible when watering helps to prevent fungal issues.
Several fungal diseases can also target the Alstroemeria flower if you are not careful.
The Mosaic virus, so called because it causes mosaic-style patterns to form on the leaves of the plants, comes in many forms. Of these Tomato Spotted Wilt virus, which is spread by thrips, and the Hippeastrum or Amaryllis mosaic virus which is spread by aphids are the most common.
There is no reliable treatment for the Mosaic virus. Instead dig up and dispose of any affected plants. Do not place infected plants on the compost pile.
Blight or gray mold is a common sight during warm humid periods, particularly if the temperature remains between 70 and 77 ℉ for a prolonged period. Should blight develop, cut away and destroy the affected leaves.
Remember to clean your tools after cutting away any diseased parts of the plant.
Many types of virus as well as blight can be prevented by correctly spacing out the plants. This helps to promote airflow around the plants. Another preventative measure is to water only the base of the plants, keeping the foliage as dry as possible. Wet leaves are a breeding ground for fungal problems.
How to Harvest Peruvian Lily Blooms
A reliable cut flower, many people like to grow Alstroemeria to use the exotic blooms in showy floral displays. The extensive color palette coupled with a pleasingly long vase life has helped to increase the desirability of the Alstroemeria flower. If you change the water on a regular basis, cut plants can last for up to 3 weeks in water.
Sturdy stems support clusters of attractive flowers. Adding further interest, the foliage of some cultivars can also twist and turn. Typically a band of leaves form just below the floral blooms. Leaves then form on alternate sides all down the stem.
Once established, the plants form mounds on their fleshy rhizomes. This process is known as colonizing. From this mounded, tuberous root, each new plant stem emerges. Cutting blooms correctly helps to stimulate more growth and blooming.
Use a sharp garden scissors to remove the stems from as close to the rootstock as possible. This encourages new shoots to form. Long shoots can be trimmed to the desired length later.
The Peruvian Lily provides long-lasting cut blooms.
To display the stems in a vase remove the lower leaves. Some people like to remove all but the top band that sits just below the petals. This helps to keep the water clean. It also ensures that the cut stems can remain hydrated, prolonging their lifespan.
Warning, the sap of the Alstroemeria flower contains the Tulipalin toxin. This can be harmful to both humans and animals. This can cause illness or irritate the skin. Wear gloves when handling the plants. If swallowed the sap can irritate the skin.
While considered non toxic when consumed by animals the sap can irritate the mouth or cause digestive issues such as vomiting.
A reliable, hardy herbaceous perennial with the correct care, the Alstroemeria flower can last for many years. Best planted in a sunny border, the plants are just as happy to grow in a container where their colorful, lily-like blooms provide long lasting interest.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.