If there’s one flower that’s a mainstay for many florists, it’s alstoemeria. Sometimes called a “Peruvian Lily,” alstroemeria – known in the biz as “alstro” – is bright and colorful, long-lasting and fairly inexpensive. If you’ve every received a mixed arrangement of flowers, odds are there was some alstroemeria in it.
I learned to like this flower while doing floral design but I was surprised to see it starting to appear in garden centers in the past few years. In 2006, the company Könst Alstroemeria BV in the Netherlands started to market Princess Lilies, a dwarf alstroemeria variety. Early varieties were tall and could become invasive. Princess Lilies solved these problems and made alstroemeria available to the home gardener.
This year I’m growing an alstroemeria plant to see how it does in the garden. This plant grows from small tubers just below the surface of the soil. According to the instructions on the plant label, alstroemeria can be grown in the garden or in containers. It needs full to partial sun and should blossom throughout the summer. It’s described as a “tough” plant, one that can withstand a variety of cultural conditions.
The Princess Lilies are hardy to zone 7 – zone 6 with heavy winter mulching. Since I’m in zone 6 I decided to grow the plant in a container that can be brought inside over the winter to make sure that it survives the cold. Time will tell how this plant grows and blooms in its container.
There is one small warning when it comes to growing alstroemeria. This plant is a member of the Amaryllidaceae family which includes amaryllis, daffodils, snowdrops, agapanthus and others. This family of plants produces various alkaloids that if ingested can cause intestinal problems. Someone growing alstroemeria just needs to be aware that this plant is not to be eaten! Also some people’s skin is sensitive to these alkaloids and exposure can cause a mild rash. I’ve never had a problem with this but if you get a rash from daffodil sap, you might want to be a little careful when handling an alstroemeria plant.
Right now the Princess Lilies variety Fabiana looks great. I’ll be interested to see how it grows throughout the summer and also how easy it is to overwinter. I’m hopeful that this new plant will become a keeper. It’d be great if a florist flower could become a mainstay in the summer garden here in PA!