In this article, we will discuss how to grow Alstroemeria in containers. They may be best known as a commercial cut flower but they can be successfully grown in containers as well. The common name of Peruvian lily or Lily of the Incas reveals its origins in South America.
This hardy perennial is well known for producing vividly coloured flowers from June to August. The flowers can be red, orange, purple, pink, yellow and even white.
The flowers are borne in clusters on top of leafy stems and often have very attractive patterns, marks and freckles on the inner petals. This gives the plant the exotic appearance that gardeners like.
It is a firm favourite in the garden because it is easy to grow and because it is very hardy. To add to its appeal plant breeders have introduced many new varieties that have an increased colour range and are in flower for a long period of time. Compact varieties have been bred so that they can be grown in pots.
The biggest problem is that few flowers are produced in the first year after planting as it takes some time for the plant to establish.
Find out how to grow Alstroemerias in containers in this article.
GROWING ALSTROMERIA IN CONTAINERS
You can grow Alstroemerias as tubers but this is not recommended as it can be difficult to get them started. It is easier to buy them as container-grown plants.
First, you will need to buy a large enough container to get a few years of growth from the plant. Ideally, a 30cm diameter pot will be sufficient. Whatever container you select make sure it has plenty of drainage holes to allow the excess to drain away.
To the bottom of the container, you should add a 1cm layer of gravel to help water to leave the container better.
On top of this, mix 80% by volume of multipurpose compost with 20% by volume of perlite to create a free-draining growing media. This is very important as the growing media must be very light and be free-draining. When making the growing media, it will be a good idea to mix a handful of slow-release fertilizer to give an initial boost.
Dig a hole in the growing media that is slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original container. Place the plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the surface of the compost. Backfill with the growing media ensuring that no gaps remain, which can be filled with more compost. Water it well and firm the plant in.
CARE OF ALSTROEMERIAS
Place the containers in an area where it gets full sun, as too little sun will result in poor flowering. It is best to choose a spot that is sheltered from strong winds as this can damage the flowering stems.
Water your Alstroemerias especially so during dry spells until it is well-established. It is very important not to overwater as this can cause the fleshy roots to rot. You will need to water regularly to keep the compost evenly moist and especially when 5cm below the top of the surface of the compost feels dry to the touch. Water until it emerges from the drainage holes.
When the flowering buds start to form, you can feed them with high potash, liquid fertilizer such as Phostrogen every two weeks.
Once the flowers start fading rather than cutting off the dead flowers, you can gently pull the stems from the base of the clumps. This will stimulate new growth.
If you want to pick your Alstroemeria for a cut flower, you can do so by pulling the stem from the crown and then trimming it to fit the vase. You will need to refresh the water every few days to keep the flowers going.
After several years the clumps will need to be divided, especially so when it starts producing fewer flowers. Take the plant out of the pot in early spring and divide the clump into several plants with a growing point in each division. Each new division will need to be planted immediately in new containers to propagate your plant. You can discard any woody, bare divisions as they are beyond saving.
PESTS AND DISEASES
If you get the growing conditions right Alstroemerias rarely suffer from problems. Too much winter rain can cause the roots to rot and this is why it is important to grow them in a free-draining growing media. The plant will die back in autumn and once dormant, you can place the pots on the side to avoid it from getting waterlogged.
Once new growth begins in spring, you may notice that slugs and snails may nibble on the young leaves. You can protect your plant by using slug pellets or woolly mat deterrent matting to stop this from happening in the first place.
VARIETIES TO GROW
Many varieties can be grown in containers and these include:
‘White Pink Blush’ has funnel-shaped white flowers with smudges of pink and dark streaks.
‘Indian Summer’ has rich, bronze leaves and has orange blooms that come in sunset colours. A compact variety.
‘Butterfly Hybrids’ has pink and purple flowers with purple speckles.
‘Summer Lovely’ has vivid red flowers with oranges centres and black splashes.
‘Spring Valley’ has light yellow flowers with orange centres and dark speckles along the petals.
‘New Tree Encrest Clear’ produces pure white flowers with yellow centres.
‘Allure’ has pink/purple flowers with white centres and dark speckles on the petals.
‘Malaga Valley’ has salmon flowers which are yellow towards the centre and dark markings.
‘Little Miss Zoe’ has orange flowers with yellow centres and dark markings on each petal.
‘Sweet Laura’ has yellow flowers with brown speckles and orange tips.
‘Beach Valley’ has pale pink flowers with yellow centres and dark markings.
‘Beluga’ has pink flowers with white and yellow centres and orange markings.
‘Summer Red’ has dark red flowers with a white centre and markings.
In this article, we have discussed how to grow Alstroemeria in containers. They are such colourful plants with such exotic looking flowering that are often so beautifully speckled or marked. They are easy to grow, easy to look after as long as the roots never get too waterlogged and that you divide when it gets too congested.
A plant that is well worth the effort and time in the container garden.
If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing Alstroemeria in containers, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy Alstroemeria growing.