How To Grow Alstroemerias
The longest-lasting, prettiest, colorful flowers for your vase
(Alstroemeria hybrids) Peruvian lily, princess flower
Alstroemerias are one of the most popular cut flowers, and for good reason.
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They’re long-lasting in the vase—up to two weeks! They come in a wide range of colors from whites to yellows to pinks, oranges and peaches, reds, and purples. And with a variety of dark markings or blotches of white, pink, or yellow.
They’re also called Peruvian lily and princess lily. Most of what’s available to buy are hybrids that come from Brazil and Chile.
Yes, these are those popular flowers, ubiquitous in florist’s arrangements. But don’t let their commonness discourage you from growing them. They’re used by florists for a reason!
When I’ve sold mixed bouquets, my customers would remark about how long my flowers lasted. It was mostly because of the Alstroemerias.
They’re easy to grow and super easy to harvest! Be sure to see the unique harvesting procedure below.
Alstroemeria flowers and plants
Alstroemerias bloom strongest in late spring to early summer. They slow down—but don’t stop—in the heat then come back for more bloom in the late summer. If your soil stays cool, you’ll have more flowering through the summer… as long as you harvest properly! (See the harvesting section for details.)
The flowers open from long lily-like buds. They form in clusters of 3-5 or more atop long sturdy stems. They open to reveal long stamens, the pollen bearing part of the flower.
The stems vary in length from 10 in. to 2-4 ft. depending on the variety. The tall ones are great for nice tall bouquets. And the short ones are nice for bouquets on the dinner table or in small vases that tuck into little spaces that can use a dash of color.
Alstroemerias are herbaceous perennials, which means you won’t see them in the winter.
They grow stems that have only leaves on them and some stems that have the flowers on their tips.
The one in the photo shows white ‘Casablanca’ with tall flowering stems and low foliage below.
How to grow Alstroemerias
Zones 7-10, with some caution in zone 7 where you’ll need to winter mulch well with straw; full sun, a little afternoon shade if in a hot summer area; fairly rich garden soil with good drainage, and a layer of a good, composted mulch on the surface; regular water, but they can tolerate a bit of drought.
You might be tempted to try growing them from seeds. The Ligtu and Dr. Salters hybrids are available, but those are deciduous alstroemerias, where the foliage stops growing once it gets warm, it then flowers, and that’s all you’ll get till next year. It’s a time investment and I think purchasing plants is the best way to go.
While harvesting (see below) there may be many leafy stems that wither. Go ahead and remove those, too, to groom the plant and leave room for vigorous new stems and flower stems!
Harvest after the buds start to open but before the anthers show pollen to give you the longest vase life. Any that are not yet open will open in the vase.
But here’s the fun part. To harvest the flowers reach down and hold the bottom of the stem and yank. Just pull it up. You’ll get a nice long stem with a white part at the base that was underground. I cut the white part off, sometimes more, before I place it in water.
Harvesting Alstroemeria flowers this way encourages the tubers to send up more flowers! So be sure to harvest them the right way for nice, continued bloom.
These flowers are quite forgiving, too! If you’re just out with your flowers and you pick a few Alstroemerias (the right way), you can wait for a while, even if they start to wilt… Once you’re inside, cut the stems, place in water, and they’ll perk right up. It’s kind of like a magic flower!
Post-harvest is as usual—place in warmish water in a cool dark spot for 8 hrs. then arrange in bouquets. Or you can work with these right away.
There are so many different varieties of Alstroemeria and the flower industry comes out with new ones each year. Generally the older varieties have longer stems. In recent years the focus has been to produce shorter stems for potted plants and bedding flowers.
I used to only want the stunning tall ones, but since they were getting scarce, I finally realized that you can still have nice shorter flower bouquets in small vases that go well on dinner tables and in smaller spaces like windowsills and bookshelves, etc.
But I do hear that some grower nurseries are looking to carry more of the taller varieties. Yay!
So, two tall varieties I particularly like are: ‘Casablanca’ which is white, and ‘Third Harmonic’ which is orange.
Sources for Alstroemeria plants
You’ll likely find plants from your local nursery in spring and early summer. It’s best to buy them when they’re in bloom so you know exactly what color they are and how tall their stems get.
But, if you want more selection here are two nurseries that ship plants. I ‘ve purchased only from the first one:
My recommendation overall is to buy as many as you can afford, though the plants are expensive. You’ll not regret it because they’re such reliable and perennial cutting flowers!
Flowers to go with Alstroemerias
Tall-stemmed flowers that look like fireworks in a bouquet. Come in a variety of colors.
Grow this lavender for fresh arrangements, and it’s a spectacular one for drying.
Easy to grow, tall, long-stemmed flower lasts very well in the vase. Hard to find but worth it!
Pretty lemon-yellow Alstromerias in a small vase. These came from a short stemmed plant.