Alstroemerias, commonly known as Peruvian lilies or lily of the Incas, are colourful perennials that are commonly grown for cut flowers due to the long flowering time once cut, in fact alstroemeria must be one of the longest-lasting cut flowers of all so it doubles up as a florist’s flower and a superb garden performer.
There are fifty species of alstroemerias distributed in two main areas of central Chile and eastern Brazil. Their six-petalled flowers come in a range of colours and some of the opposite petals are often spotted and striated.
Some alstroemeria species can be invasive and some flower only fleetingly in summer so it’s important to choose hybrid selections that flower over many months.
Find out how to start a cutting garden
When to plant alstroemerias
Plant alstroemerias in early summer - between May and August.
Where to plant alstroemerias
Alstroemerias need a sheltered sunny site and good drainage because they have tuberous, fleshy roots that rot in wet winter soil.
Alstroemerias can also be grown in containers in a greenhouse.
Alstroemerias can be grown under unheated glass for late flower, or in a warm spot in the garden, and they will flower late into the year because alstroemerias are Southern Hemisphere plants that thrive on equally balanced days and nights.
For bright summer colour buy a collection of mixed alstroemeria bulbs from Saga Garden Centre.
How to plant alstroemerias
Grow alstroemeria from rhizomes or plants as seeds can be difficult to grow from.
Hardiness varies so new alstroemeria plants should be established in early summer and planted deeply to a depth of six to eight inches and 24 inches apart. Make sure the ground is prepared with good compost.
Water well until the plant is established.
Caring for alstroemerias
Young alstroemerias should be mulched with straw or bracken for their first two winters or so but after that time they will have developed deeper root systems and this will make them hardier.
Remove any mulch once winter has retreated.
Stake tall varieties to avoid them flopping over.
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Feed alstroemerias with a high potash fertiliser during the growing season.
When they bloom
Alstroemerias flower from summer until autumn. Taking cut flowers and deadheading will encourage more flower growth.
Alstroemerias are plucked and not cut, because the meristems underground respond to being damaged. Dead head spent blooms, by tugging the whole stem out, as flowers fade.
Taller varieties of alstroemerias make better plants for picking.
Alstroemerias can last about two weeks in a vase.
Remove faded flowers by plucking from the base to encourage more blooms.
Divide alstromerias in April, being careful not to damage the fragile roots. Divided plants should be planted immediately.
Find out more about dividing perennials
Pests and diseases
Watch out for slug damage in spring - they can be highly attractive to gastropods.
Find out how to control slugs and snails
Good varieties of alstroemerias
‘Indian Summer’ (up to 3ft / 75cm)
A newish dark-leaved alstroemeria with sunny orange and warm-yellow flowers. In my garden this willowy alstroemeria scrambles through a rusty iron tripod all summer long.
Shorter alstroemerias with a long flowering season
The Inca Series (18in/ 45cm)
This Dutch series includes some excellent pastel-coloured ‘alstroes' and some vivid ones with large flowers. They include the blush-pink, white and yellow ‘Inca Smile’.
The Little Miss Series (8in/ 20cm)
Short plants with beautifully marked flowers in many shades including vivid-pink. Flowering from July until August.
The Princess Series (variable heights)
Dutch-bred for the cut-flower trade so these vigorous hybrids flower between June and November. Most are short in stature.
Taller alstroemerias for cutting and the border
‘Orange Glory’ AGM (3ft/ 90cm)
Tall burnt orange with yellow speckled throat, a really rich combination of the orange colour spectrum. Stout stems makes this an ideal cutting variety. because it flowers prolifically between June and November.
‘Phoenix’ (2.5ft/ 75cm)
Bright magenta flower and variegated white and green foliage. Can flower from June until November.
‘Apollo’ AGM (3ft/ 90cm)
Large, open white petals with a yellow centre. It stands up well with strong stems, making it ideal for the border and for cutting. An older variety.
‘Friendship’ AGM (3ft/ 90cm)
Pale-yellow tall alstroemeria with pink blushes. Good to cut.
Where to buy
The best range is available from Viv Marsh Postal Plants - an alstroemeria specialist.
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