Alstroemeria, is a herbaceous perennial that came into our culture from the South American continent and is also called the Peruvian lily. Its miniature flowers do resemble small lilies, and for many they resemble graceful elves.
It is one of the most popular cutting cultures, keeps its shape in the bouquet for a long time and brings a delicate touch to landscape design.
This perennial plant sometimes reaches a meter and a half. Tender flowers up to 5 cm in diameter are collected at the end of a straight stalk in fairly large inflorescences.
Depending on the variety, their colouring may be white (Cosmo, Virginia), orange (Orange Queen is the most popular with gardeners), yellow (Lemon), burgundy (Granada), lilac (Dynasty) or all sorts of pink shades with fine speckles. The flowering season opens in July and often lasts until mid August.
Planting and maintenance
Alstremia is best developed in openwork shade or open in the morning sun. Since the stems of the young plant are too brittle for wind and rain to break them, it is best to choose a protected area and the shoots themselves are strengthened with a support.
Despite the unpretentiousness shown by alstremia, growing this plant requires regular care. It is important to ensure that the soil around it remains a little moist, loose and free of weeds.
In summer, the bushes are fed with organic and mineral fertiliser, otherwise the leaves get a dull light colour. Alstremiae must be mulched to preserve its roots, which are exposed to overheating in the sun. Since it is a perennial plant that is thermophilic and very sensitive to cold, you should take care of it before winter arrives. This is especially true for young bushes which are less winter-hardy than older specimens.
Although in the south the plant can spend the winter without shelter and go through short severe frosts to see it next year, it is better to build a safe shelter. Cut the ground parts in autumn, stop watering and cover the plant with a heap of dry leaves or insulation material and then with polyethylene. Pour a layer of mulch or straw on top to protect it from freezing.
Compared to other crops, alstremia is not as prone to attack by enemies – diseases and pests. Problems arise only if there is insufficient drainage. In case of high humidity after long rains, it may be affected by botritis – grey rot. For protection, there is a preventive irrigation of the rhizomes and spraying the bush with a solution of fungicide. A spider mite, slugs, leaf-eating caterpillars, beetles and thrips may also like the culture.
The culture multiplies with seeds that have to be stratified before planting. For a month they are placed in pots in a cold and slightly humid environment, and the seedlings will appear 15-20 days later. When the weather is acceptable, the seedlings can be sent to the garden. When planting, fertilise the soil and wait for the second year to flower.
Reproduce alstremiah and rhizome division. As the bush grows quickly, over time it will allow you to take part of the root with sleeping buds painlessly and plant at a similar depth in the ground. Weak stems are broken out to give the rhizome more strength to take root and grow.