Peruvian Lily – Alstroemeria
Alstroemeria is indigenous to South American countries, such as Brazil and Chile. While it is technically a flowering herbaceous plant, you will find it most commonly sold as cut flowers. Alstroemeria is a perennial that strongly resembles the Lily. It is easily identified by the upside down leaves. Since the plant grows spirally, the leaves end up with their bottoms on top. This has led to its association with devotion and friendship throughout many different cultures, the reason being that friendship also has many twists and turns.
The petals are typically striped, while the flowers come in lavender, pink, salmon, apricot, orange, white, red, and yellow. They are without fragrance, though.
Choose a site with spotty to full sunlight, unless you live in a location where the temperature of your soil exceeds 70 degree F. Then choose a place where your Alstroemerias will be protected by the Sun in the afternoon. If you do not, then your plants will not yield flowers, but will remain dormant. Putting your plants in a greenhouse will allow you to control the temperature during the first 6 weeks and create high quality flowers on shorter stems.
Clear the ground of debris, including organic (i.e. grass). If you are facing clay for your soil, consider instead building a top soil consisting of 70% organic material and 30% perlite. Otherwise, dig into the soil that is already present, tilling it for planting. Whatever soil you plant them in, it must provide enough air and drainage.
Place Alstroemeria in 2-inch deep holes 3′ apart. Cover the rhizomes until it is level with the surrounding ground. Make sure to plant only when temperatures are above 50F. It can be in the Spring or the Autumn.
Of course, you should water the rhizomes when you plant them and keep them wet until the first shoots come up. Then water with approximately 1″ of water every week until Alstroemeria is well established.
You can protect Alstroemeria from the heat of Summer by surrounding the base with a ring of mulch 3″ deep. Bark or compost works best, but avoid placing it directly on the plant.
The stems of dead flowers should be trimmed to free up energy to make new ones.
If your Alstroemeria is over 2 years old, supplement its soil during the growing season with nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
Alstroemeria will flower profusely for 3-6 years, after which the quality and quantity of blossoms will diminish. Rather than wasting your efforts on such a small return, it is better to replace your plants with new ones.
Do not expect many flowers the first year, if you are growing them outside. A heated greenhouse is ideal, but even outside you can encourage between 120-150 stems per square meter following the first year.
The rhizomes are the location of most of the development in the plant. When the soil is too hot, development suffers, resulting in poor flowers. Consequently, the Autumn and Winter are prime periods for shoot production in the Alstroemeria.
In early Spring the leaves are more prone to scorching, particularly when temperatures are changing so quickly. To avoid this, simply ventilate and heat whenever humidity surpasses 85%.
You should heavily water your Alstroemeria since the roots are mostly located as deep as 25cm below the surface of the soil. In Autumn and Winter, during intensive growth, reduce watering for a few weeks.
When growing Alstroemeria, pH plays a strong role in controlling nutrients. For example, at a pH higher than 7, deficiencies in both iron and manganese arise, showing in a yellowing of the leaves. This yellowing can also happen because of a loss of roots, either due to a period of high production or from a loss due to low light conditions. If the plant gets to this point, both cold soil and too much water will exacerbate the problem.