A member of the lily family, alstroemeria bloom in clusters in a variety of colors from white to yellow to burgundy. The flowers are popular in arrangements as they are showy, have sturdy stems and, if properly cared for, can last for 10 to 14 days in a vase. In the garden, alstroemeria add a burst of color and will bloom from mid-spring to mid-summer. Alstroemeria may also be known as Peruvian Lily, Lily of the Incas or Parrot Lily.
Alstroemeria do well in full sun and well-drained soil, though in areas that are particularly hot and humid, they should be planted in shade and watered daily. Alstroemeria will wilt in extreme heat. Plant about 1 foot apart and about 6 inches below the ground in the fall for best results.
In the Garden
Alstroemeria are perennials that grow between 2 and 5 feet tall and make excellent borders for gardens. The flowers resemble azaleas, but have a longer life. If you want to pick your alstroemeria, do not cut it, as this will slow growth. Rather, grasp the stem a few inches from the ground, twist and pull upward. This method will encourage new growth.
Alstroemeria may be grown in USDA zones 4 through 11, but should be grown in containers in zones 4 and 5. If there is a possibility of frost, take containers inside or cover to avoid losing the plant. In zones 6 through 11, alstroemeria may be planted in the ground, but be sure to apply about 3 inches of mulch in zones 6 and 7 to protect the roots.
Alstroemeria is native to areas with pampas and grassy fields, particularly in South America. In New Zealand, alstroemeria blooms around Christmas and is known as "New Zealand Christmas Bell." Alstroemeria has expanded into western Australia.
Alstroemeria is known to symbolize wealth, prosperity, fortune and friendship. It can be invasive, so use in an area with room for expansion.