The beautiful but humble Alstroemeria is known as the unsung hero in most bouquets and arrangements. The attractive blooms are often used as a ‘filler’ flower and the delicate, unique markings often overlooked when mixed with feature flowers. With no fragrance, “Alstro” is a great choice in arrangements for the home and hospitals with a vase life of about two weeks. This probably explains why it is purported to be the most popular variety used by florists world-wide. Plants of this genus grow from a cluster of tubers. They send up fertile and sterile stems, the fertile stems of some species reaching 1.5 meters in height.
Commonly called the Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas or Parrot Lily, our flower of the month is the locally grown Alstroemeria, a South American genus of about 50 species of flowering plants, originating mainly from the cool, mountainous regions in the Andes – where they actually grow wild. Also known as Lily of the Incas or Peruvian Lily, Alstroemeria is actually more closely related to Amaryllis than they are to true lilies. Grown locally by Wandin Valley Flowers at the back of the beautiful Dandenong Ranges in Victoria, a new “truss” premium variety of Alstroemeria is exclusively now available for the first time in Australia. You can read more about this variety here and also locate a wholesaler that stocks them (pending availability).
The Alstroemeria flower is symbolic of wealth, prosperity and fortune. It is also the flower of friendship. The flower comes in orange, pink, rose, purple, lavender, red, yellow, white and bi colours and blooms during Spring and early Summer. They are also the 30th wedding anniversary flower, symbolizing devotion.
A famous botanist, Carl Linnaeus, named the flowers after one of his pupils, Clas von Alstroemeria. Clas sent Carl the seeds in 1753 after he’d collected them on a trip to South America.
Alstroemeria can be mixed with most flowers and look fantastic when combined classic-style with roses and/or seasonal varieties. Stems can be kept long or trimmed down for smaller posies, wreath and installation work. “Virgina White” and blush pink tones are the most popular varieties for weddings with purple favored for general arrangements.
For a more exotic twist, pair with taller flowers like Asiatic Lilies, bird of paradise, orchids, or lobster claws. Since the proportions of the larger tropical flowers and stems are great by themselves, keep the alstroemeria clusters at the lower portion of the arrangement to give equal interest to both varieties.
Cut Flower Tips:
- Purchase when clusters have one or two flowers open and other buds showing colour. Stems and leaves should be deep green.
- Be sure to remove the whitish portion of the lower stem if it is present. Hydrate in warm water for two hours before storage or usage.
- Cut the stems on a slant with scissors and place them in a clean vase with fresh water
- Mix half a teaspoon of bleach into the vase water
- When the leaves start to wilt and turn yellow, before the flowers have finished blooming simply remove the leaves that have discoloured and re-cut the stems
- When the individual flowers do start to fade, remove them, leaving the remaining buds to open.