The name of the lily alone triggers wanderlust for warm, colorful climes and this spontaneous reaction is no accident. Because the fascinating plant is native to subtropical, tropical and temperate climate zones and originally comes from Chile. The Swedish botanist Clas Alstroemer discovered this exotic plant on his travels in the 18th century and brought it with him to Europe. Countless cultivated variants have emerged through many years of propagation and a wide variety of breeding. But in order for its graceful beauty to be preserved, the Alstroemeria needs certain conditions to thrive. The exotic loves loose, humus-rich, nutrient-rich soil and a wind-protected, bright location. Regular watering and fertilizing will reward them with large, butterfly-like blooms,

External appearance and characteristics

The Alstroemeria belongs to the monocotyledonous plants within the order of the Lilies. Countless breeds have been made, especially from Alstroemeria aurea, and there are now between 40 and 65 different species of the plant. The Alstroemeria can be recognized by its flowers, which are either single or in umbellate to racemose inflorescences. The upper petals are usually striped or dashed. Inside the plant are three carpels, which combine to form a sub-constant, three-chambered fruit knot. In each of these chambers are the ovules. The growth of the plant is taut, clumpy and upright and it can reach a height of between 30 and 100 centimeters under favorable conditions.

Its leaves are oblong to lanceolate and grey-green in colour. The decorative clusters of flowers, which can be enjoyed well into autumn, set a special accent. As different as the species of the plant are, so are their colors. It can be just as enchanting in shades of violet, pink or red as it is in yellow or orange. Due to their bushy, dense habit and their long shelf life, lilies are ideal as cut flowers.

Essentials at a glance

The lily embellishes gardens, terraces or the balcony and gives the environment a slightly Mediterranean, exotic touch. In order for the Alstroemeria to grow undisturbed and unfold its splendor, you have to create a few conditions.

  • The potting of the alkali lily is done in tubs.
  • Except for a few species, the plant is not hardy.
  • A sunny, sheltered location is preferred.
  • The soil should be loose, permeable and humus.
  • Regular fertilizing during the growth phase.
  • Waterlogging must be avoided at all costs.
  • Propagation takes place by seeds or division of the rhizomes.
  • Sow early March, flowering June to October.

The extravagant beauty feels particularly comfortable in the vicinity of grasses, sweet thistles or herbaceous sage. These special plants all have the same location requirements, but cannot hold a candle to the Alstroemeria in terms of beauty. So that the colorfulness of the perennial plant can really come into its own, it is best to plant them in smaller groups. About 3 to 5 plants per square meter and a planting distance of 30 to 50 centimeters are considered ideal.

The perfect care at the right time

The Alstroemeria needs a wind and weather-protected, yet sunny location. She loves a soil that is humus, rich in nutrients, fresh and permeable. If you find rather heavy soil in your garden, you can easily make the soil looser with a little sand or grit. Before planting, always work in some compost and provide soil and plant with an organic fertilizer. Alkaline lilies in planters should be supplied with a liquid fertilizer approximately every 14 days. The soil should only be watered well when it is dry, otherwise the following applies: avoid waterlogging.

When the Alstroemerias begin to flower, you can also do something good for the plant by adding some liquid fertilizer to the irrigation water. After flowering or at the beginning of sprouting, the plant can be cut back about a hand high. To ensure repeated blooming and regrowth of the alkali lily, it is advisable to carefully pull out all old shoots. It is important that the entire shoot, down to the root, is removed by unscrewing. External damage to the root stimulates new shoots, which in turn cause the plant to bloom again.

wintering tips

The Alstroemeria is ideal as a container plant. Some species of the plant are considered hardy, but they also need some protection from frost and cold outdoors. With the beginning of the cold season, the plants should therefore be covered with a thick layer of leaves or with straw, bark mulch and jute. However, the thermometer should not show more than -15 degrees, because too severe frost damages the sensitive roots. If the weather is too extreme, it makes sense to dig up the rhizomes and overwinter them in a frost-free place at temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius.

After the ice saints in May next year, you can wake up the flowers from hibernation and plant them 20 to 25 centimeters deep in the newly designed garden bed. Potted plants should also be brought indoors or wintered in a frost-free, sheltered niche on the balcony or terrace and allowed to rest. However, withered leaves should be removed from potted plants and the root ball should be watered every 2 weeks or at least kept moderately moist.

Propagation by seeds

The lily can be propagated in a variety of ways. One way of propagation is by seeds. These form in the fruit capsules after the plant has matured and can be caught with a fleece or similar covering. When ripe, the fruit capsules burst open and eject the seeds. These can then be sown in a mini greenhouse or in a planter. The germination period is 4 weeks. When the seedlings are an appropriate size, they can be carefully potted or transplanted. Care must be taken not to damage the delicate roots. When propagating from seeds, some patience is required, as the plants need some time to establish themselves and therefore only flower in the second or third year after sowing.

Propagation by division of the rhizomes

The most effective and easiest way is to propagate the alkali lily by dividing the rhizomes, since the roots are very fragile. Spring, especially March, is the best time for this activity. The sensitive root areas of the perennial plant are simply divided and replanted. The advantage of this simple technique is that every hobby gardener has a lucky hand with it and the color fastness of the flower is still guaranteed.

sowing and planting

Start sowing the seeds in early March. It is best to set the seeds under glass or in specially created seed boxes for germination. It can take 14 to 21 days for the first small sprouts to appear. An earth-sand mixture is suitable for sowing, which should contain an admixture of 1/3 sand. After the end of the ice saints at the beginning of May, you can slowly get used to the small alkali lilies to the climatic conditions outdoors. Piece by piece you put them outside again and again. In this way they experience a certain resilience against rougher temperatures. Only then are the Alstroemeria assigned their traditional place in the garden.

The Alstroemeria is known for being able to form many roots. Therefore, annual repotting is extremely important for plants that are kept and cultivated in tubs. In order to ensure that excess water can drain away, the plant pots should have enough holes on their underside.

diseases and pests

Especially when the Alstroemeria are still very young, they are unfortunately also very susceptible to harmful external influences. In very warm and wet seasons, gray mold repeatedly occurs, which is noticeable by an unsightly grey-white coating on the leaves. If you notice this covering, it is important to protect the plant from moisture and rain and to strengthen it with organic fertilizer.

The red spider mite also prefers the alkali as a place to stay. The sucking, annoying insects are mainly found in greenhouses and can usually only be controlled with insecticides. Regular checks can identify damage in the early stages. Infested plants should be isolated and treated with a pesticide. Aphids also have a preference for the magnificent perennial plant. Spraying nettle or horsetail decoction can be a very effective countermeasure. Hosing down with water usually helps.

Furthermore, traces of slime indicate an acute snail infestation, which can badly affect the plant. Special slug pellets can be used preventively. Discolored or slightly deformed leaves and flowers usually indicate a viral or fungal disease. If this is the case, then there is usually nothing left to save. The plant should be removed as soon as possible to prevent spreading to other plants. As a preventive measure, garlic can be planted as a mixed culture.

The Alstroemeria is a brightly colored flower that not only embellishes a patio or garden as a container plant, but also makes many a colorful bouquet bloom as a cut flower. It beguiles with a beautiful color scheme and is considered the eye-catcher of the season well into autumn. Even if the flower is very majestic and sophisticated, caring for and propagating it is less complicated than it appears.

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