Questions about Alstro

Can my alstroemeria and my pets be friends?

Are alstroemeria really just little lilies?

Do I need to leave my alstroemeria in my will?

Ok that last one is a bit of a stretch. But that can be true for some flowers! Like peonies!

In this two-part series we’re answering some of the questions you may have about alstroemeria. Perhaps it’s a bit of a mystery plant to you? Are you intrigued by it and want to get to know it better?

Well you’ve come to the right place.

Are alstroemeria lilies?

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is that despite their lily-like appearance and being known as Peruvian Lily and Lily of the Incas, alstroemeria are not true lilies. They belong to the Alstroemeriaceae family and grow wild in South America.

Why is my alstroemeria dying?

Here are some possibilities:

  • Slugs and snails are sliding around and can make light work of alstroemeria, especially them young and juicy ones
  • Tubers may not be planted deeply enough making them vulnerable to winter frost. They need to be planted deeply and mulched over winter
  • Root rot. Alstro can get a bit claustrophobic if mulched too determinedly. When the mulch is pushed too far down that it’s touching the roots, it can bring on the rot. So be sure to give those roots their personal space (at least 2”)
  • Too much water and soil that doesn’t drain well – soggy feet are a no-no!
  • Not enough sun. Lay off the sunscreen (shade) and get those babies tanning!

 

Why are my alstroemeria not flowering?

Too much shade may be the problem. Or the pot they’re in may be too small. As we learnt in the previous point, alstroemeria need their space!

Also, the way you harvest the flowers matters. Yanking rather than cutting encourages more vigorous growth.

Why are my alstroemeria leaves turning yellow?

Again, not enough sunlight could be the culprit or even too much water. Otherwise, check your soil’s PH level. It should be no more than 7.

Can humans eat alstroemeria?

At a restaurant and presented with some lovely alstroemeria decorating your meal? Rather keep enjoying them with your eyes and not your mouth. Eating them may lead to stomach upsets for some people.

Can my pets and my alstroemeria be friends?

As established earlier, alstroemeria are not lilies. And while lilies can be dangerous for your furry friends, alstroemeria are very friendly. There’s a chance they may get a bit of an upset tummy from eating them but if you need to leave Fluffy and Felix alone with your alstro, rest assured they’ll all be just fine.

Do deers like eating alstroemeria?

Deers love lilies. But now that we know alstroemeria are not true lilies you can be sure they'll be safe around these dear creatures. Knowledge is power!

And there you have it! We hope this helped clear up at least some of the mysteries.

Look out for part 2 for more...

'Indian Summer'
'Inticancha Cabana'
'Inca Reef'
'Inca Lucky'
'Indian Summer'

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!

How to Plant your Alstroemeria

The Alstroemeria you ordered has just arrived at your door.

Now what?

Do you leave it in the pot it came in? Or pop it straight into the garden? Or in another pot?

Alstroemeria are quite easy-going plants. The most important thing is that they have a healthy root system when planted on.

If you’ve ordered your Alstroemeria from us it will come in a 9cm pot, ready to be potted on into a larger one and they are fast growers so will easily fill a 3 litre pot within 6-8 weeks in growing season.

Read on to find out how you can help your new Alstroemeria establish well and grow into a strong healthy plant that flowers from June to November.

In Containers

Alstroemeria are repeat bloomers through the Summer which makes them great choices for containers in the garden or a sunny balcony or patio. The short and Inticancha varieties such as ‘Noah’, ‘Little Miss Roselind’ and ‘Inticancha Navayo’ make fantastic container plants as they are nice and compact.

Here's how to get them in the pot:

  • Place some broken pottery ,tiles or gravel loosely at the bottom of your pot or container
  • Add good quality, fresh compost, mixing in some slow release fertiliser
  • Free-draining soil is essential
  • Place the well-watered plant onto the compost. Put more compost around it. The compost should finish level with the top of the rootball, 2-4cm below the rim of the new container (to allow for watering space)
  • Once in place, pat the compost down firmly but gently so as not to damage the stems – you want the plant to be secure but the compost should still be light and airy, not compressed too much
  • Water in lightly
  • Whenever the compost is getting a little dry give it a drink. If the very top of the compost is dry that’s healthy, but the compost needs to be moist around the roots
  • Remember to feed regularly once your alstroemeria starts flowering, use a liquid feed high in potash

In the Garden Border

Alstroemeria make wonderful border plants especially the medium and tall varieties such as ‘Marguerite’, ‘Pandora’ and ‘Apollo’.

Their rainbow colour selection make alstroemeria a bright, eye catching feature that will keep producing flowers for up to 4 months a year, flowering from early Summer into Early Autumn.

Here’s how to plant your babies into garden borders:

  • Mix fertiliser and organic matter into the soil around where you want to plant: bonemeal or blood fish and bone are good choices
  • Make a planting hole in this soil to the depth that the top of the plant’s root ball is level with the top of the soil
  • If the soil is dry, fill the empty hole with water and leave it to drain
  • Place the plant in the hole, filling around it with the soil and organic matter mixture. Add the plant and firm with your hands or a lightly applied foot
  • Water well, even if rain is forecast – this helps settle the soil
  • You can add a layer of mulch to help keep the roots moist but be careful not to let the mulch pile up against the stem
  • Water occasionally and thoroughly for a month or three, until the roots get established. Occasional deep watering is better than a frequent sprinkle.

 

Once you’ve followed these instructions for Alstroemeria in pots or in the garden, you’ll be guaranteed flowers ‘til the cows come home (or at least the first frosts in the Autumn).

Just make sure that when the cows come home your Alstroemeria aren’t in a place they can be trampled...

And please pop us a message on social media and let us know how your planting goes, we’d love to hear from you!