The Alstroemeria, or Peruvian lily, is a long-lived, free-flowering perennial that originates from South America. They grow from tubers, and produce lots of colourful flowers from June through to the first winter frosts on stems up to 1.2m tall, depending on the variety. The flowers come in a wide variety of colours, including shades of red, orange, purple, green and white, generally patterned with darker freckles, stripes and streaks. They have six ‘tepals’ – the petals and sepals are indistinguishable, six prominent, curving stamens and a three-lobed stigma.Buy Alstroemeria Here!
There are approximately fifty species of wild Alstroemeria. Despite the common name, the centres of distribution are two distinct areas in central Chile and eastern Brazil, and not Peru. Many hybrids and around 200 cultivars have been developed, with enthusiasts breeding for flower colour and markings. The range of natural colours has been successfully expanded to a kaleidoscopic choice of reds, purples, pinks, greens, yellows, oranges, apricots and white.
The most popular garden hybrids come from crosses between species from Chile that are winter-growing and species from Brazil that are summer-growing. This has produced evergreen plants that will flower from early summer late into the autumn. They will continue to flower into early winter in an unheated greenhouse.
While not a true lily, there is some resemblance in the flower. Alstroemeria has become a stalwart of the commercial cut flower trade, as the flowers are colourful and reliable, and last for several weeks in a vase.
This article describes the varieties of Alstroemeria that are available, and provides tips on caring for the plants and how to ensure a good supply of beautiful cut flowers for the home.