Alstroemeria aurantica in bloom
image by Noodlesnacks:commons.wikimedia.org
Alstroemeria is a large family of tender perennial flowering plants with more than 50 species. Commonly known as Peruvian lily, it blooms in summer on tall, slim stems with small strap form leaves. Alstroemeria blooms in a wide range of hues from crisp white to coral to deep oxblood red. Hardy in USDA zones 8a through 11, alstroemeria is used widely in beds, borders and in cut flower production.
Choose a planting site for your alstroemeria that receives good morning sunlight and some afternoon shade in warm climates. Plant where there is some protection from cool and drying winds for optimal performance.
Plant your alstroemeria rhizomes in early fall in well-drained nutrient rich soil. Till up the soil to at least 10 inches deep and mix in compost and/or well-aged manure. Smooth and level the soil bed. Very carefully bury the delicate rhizomes 6 to 8 inches deep in 1-foot intervals. Plant larger quantities of bulbs at least 12 to 15 inches apart to create natural looking drifts and provide plenty of blooms for cutting. Water the bulbs thoroughly and lay down a 1-inch thick layer of shredded bark, cocoa hulls or compost for mulch to keep weeds away and moisture in the soil.
Maintain evenly moist soil throughout the growing season. Feed with a general purpose or bulb fertilizer formulation once a month according to label directions. Always apply over pre-watered soil to prevent burn and to speed the absorption of nutrients. In winter, scale back watering to adjust for rainfall to prevent rotting of the rhizome.
Harvest fresh blooms by cutting at the base of their long stems. Remove fading blooms to urge new flower production and prune as desired to control shape and size of the plant.