Alstroemeria in June

The unexpectedly cold weather we experienced in April has made our Alstroemeria afraid to show us their faces.

And understandably so. Those sub-zero temperatures were a shock to us too - we had to get all our winter woollies out of storage!

Like us, after the warm spell in March, you were probably all geared up to get to work on your garden over Easter. But with temperatures peaking in the single digits and snow in some areas during April, that just didn’t happen.

We hope those overnight frosts didn’t kill too much of your garden off!

Chief horticulturalist at the Royal Horticultural Society, Guy Barter, said: “Overnight frosts in April are dreaded by gardeners. Magnolia and camellia flowers are ruined, fruit blossom and young fruitlets including pears and apples are spoiled and the tender tips of potatoes will be burnt off if they appear above ground. Gardener’s hearts are in their mouths through April as they anxiously scan the weather forecasts for frost warnings ready to rush out and cover vulnerable plants to ward off damage.”

FLOWERING SEASON

Alstroemerias are very easy to grow.

In the UK they flower from May to November but are usually at their finest in July or August.

Of course, with all the topsy-turvy weather we’ve experienced, the season has been a bit delayed. So although flowering season is technically upon us we are still waiting to see them flowers!

But we should see those cute little faces popping out within the next few weeks.

WHAT TO EXPECT

If you put some Alstroemeria on backorder with us and wait patiently for them to arrive, what can you expect when they do?

Your plants will arrive in a box with a specialist care guide, which includes planting instructions and maintenance tips for your new plants. They will be carefully packed in a recyclable blister pack to hold them in place and keep them safe.

We keep our 9cm plants compact to ensure that all the energy is going into the roots of the plant to make sure they will thrive in their next home.

All our plants are picked over before shipping to remove any flower spikes and excess growth, ensuring they travel to their new home with as little damage as possible. This could mean that your new plants may have very little visible green shoots above the soil. This is not detrimental to the plant at all and does not mean that your plant is dead. Alstroemeria are extremely fast growing and will begin to shoot within a couple of weeks once planted.

There may be loose soil in the blister pack once you remove the plants, again this is not a problem -  we would expect some soil to loosen on its journey. This can either be discarded or added when the Alstroemeria is planted in to the garden or a larger pot.

Caring for your Alstroemeria

It could be said that Alstroemeria are a bit like Goldfish. Such an easy pet. You just sprinkle a few flakes at them everyday and keep those air bubbles going and there you have it. Much ado about nothin’!

Well, in a similar way Alstroemeria are such vigorous bloomers they don’t need much encouragement to keep going and growing.

But how much care does an Alstroemeria really need?

Here are some guidelines to help you along:

Feeding

Alstroemeria are hungry little creatures, so regular weekly feeds through growing season from May to September is recommended and will encourage them to flower well and repeatedly. A high potash fertiliser is recommended such as our Alstroemeria Feed.

Mulching

All of the Alstroemeria plant varieties we grow are garden winter hardy but, for the first couple of winters while they are establishing, it will be best to mulch well to make sure your new plants are protected until they are well established and can get through the winter without any assistance.

Watering

Alstroemeria are reasonably drought tolerant but will need regular watering during the summer months. If your Alstroemeria are planted in containers these tend to dry out quicker so make sure to keep the ground moist but don’t over water.

Alstroemeria need free draining soil. This is essential for them to grow well and establish in the normal way. The root system doesn’t like to be waterlogged as this can cause the roots to rot and likely cause it to die.

Picking Flowers

Alstroemeria are fabulous flowers in a vase and can last many weeks. A few tips for picking your own Alstroemeria are as follows:

Pick at the point when the buds are not yet open but have colour and looking ready to pop. They will last longer in the vase if picked at this point.

You’ll want to get hold of the stem about halfway down and give it a gentle twist followed by a sharp tug which will pull out the stem. This ensures that there are no pieces of stem left to rot which can cause fungal disease to build up on the root.

Pulling the flowering stem at the base and ripping it from the ground also encourages the plant to re-flower as it produces another bud under the ground. They‘ll then keep producing an endless supply of flowers for every vase in the home throughout the Summer.

It is best to allow the plant to become firmly established (so at least one Summer to pass after planting) until employing this method. You can still have fresh flowers by cutting them instead until the roots have had time to establish.

Dead heading

Once all the flowers in a cluster head have faded and died, remove the whole stem with a gentle tug, the same method as picking. This encourages further flower stems to sprout and keeps the plant looking neat and tidy. It also prevents it from wasting energy on producing seeds at the expense of more flowers.

 

So a little more care and maintenance than a Goldfish but totally worth it!

Alstroemeria in February

Remember those happy alstroemeria dancing in their rainbow colours in the summer breeze only a few months ago?

Now all is a-slumber in your wintery garden. Everything covered in white icy fluff.

You may have last seen your Alstroemeria blooming away up until October which feels like an age ago now. But thanks to the long flowering season you can expect to see some flowers popping up come March/April already, so it's not much longer to wait now.

But perhaps you’re wondering what your alstroemeria are up to while they’re not busy flowering and if there’s anything you need to do to help them along.

Well, with alstroemeria’s being perennials, dying back in winter, they need a period of cold weather in order to stimulate shoot growth, so you can rest assured they are doing their thing underground.

Let’s look at what you can do to support your alstroemeria during this period of hibernation so they can spring exuberantly out the ground when the time is right!

Alstroe in garden beds

Although the alstroemeria varieties we grow are garden winter hardy, withstanding soil temperatures as cold as -10°C, it is a good idea to mulch new plants well for the first couple of winters while they are establishing. This ensures they are protected until they have grown up enough to stand on their own two feet (or many roots).

It is best to apply a thick layer of leafy or peat-free mulch in Autumn. Read about our peat-free policy here. Composted bark is also a good option. Make sure to leave about a 5cm gap between mulch and stem otherwise they may get a bad case of root rot.

Alstroe in containers

Keep your potted alstroemeria indoors after September when the frost could start appearing outdoors.

You can move them to a location that is free of frost for the winter, such as a sheltered porch or greenhouse. This is because the roots are more exposed to low temperatures when in pots than they are growing in the ground.

Amazing how in spite of being seemingly more exposed, being in the garden bed is actually warmer. Just shows – nature knows best!

Alstroemeria have tuberous, fleshy roots so they require sheltering and good drainage. This will prevent the compost getting too soggy with the winter rains which can also cause the dreaded root rot.

Water lightly but frequently.  The compost should dry out on the surface between watering.

When Spring springs

If you take good care of your alstroemeria in these ways, when the days start lengthening those shoots will start flowering prolifically.

They are quite hungry plants, especially if kept in a container, so remember to feed with a high potash, liquid feed regularly in the growing season. We also use a slow release feed - our Alstroemeria Spring Feed - which can be applied at the beginning of the growing season (March) to give a steady feed throughout the early part of the growing season.

Once flowering begins, mature hybrids will keep producing flowering shoots until the soil temperature rises above 15°C for extended periods.

What varieties do you have in your garden that you’re looking forward to seeing in flower again?