Alstroemeria: Peruvian lily

Height 60-90cm (2-3ft)

Planting distance 30cm (1ft)

Flowers early to late summer Well-drained fertile soil

Sheltered sunny position

Tubers available in late winter and early spring

The beautiful Peruvian lilies provide glorious colour both outdoors in the herbaceous border and as long-lasting cut flowers in the home. Their lily-like flowers, ranging in colour from light pink to yellow, flame or orange, appear in the summer and are carried on slender stems adorned with silvery twisted leaves. Being delicate plants, they make greatest impact when grown in clumps.

Popular species

Alstroemeria aurantiaca is one of the hardiest and most flamboyant of the garden Peruvian lilies. Its fiery orange, trumpet-shaped flowers, splashed with maroon on the upper petals, create a magnificent blaze of colour in summer. Popular varieties include ‘Orange King’ with orange blooms, and ‘Lutea’ which has bright yellow flowers with carmine markings. All stand 90cm (3ft) high. ‘Ligtu Hybrids’ are near hardy and come in a wide range of pastel colours: white, cream, pink, rose, flame orange and yellow. They stand 60-90cm (2-3ft) high and flower in summer.

Cultivation

Plant the tubers in early spring in any well-drained soil; Peruvian lilies dislike root disturbance so give them a sheltered site where they can be left undisturbed for several years. Arrange the tubers in groups, setting each one at a depth of 15cm (6in). Place them 30cm (1ft) apart. Peruvian lilies usually take two years to become established, so don’t expect top growth in the first year. The plants may need sticks for support.

Apply liquid manure during and after flowering. Dead-head the flowers regularly and cut the stems back to the ground in autumn when the leaves have died down. Protect from winter frosts with a deep mulch of composted forest bark.

Propagation

Every three or four years divide established plants into 10-15cm (4-6in) clusters in early or mid spring, and replant them immediately.

Pests and diseases

Slugs may eat the young shoots, leaves and stems, checking any early growth. The plants can also be stunted by a virus disease, made apparent by yellow mottling on the leaves.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Alstroemeria: Peruvian lily

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