Alstroemeria Peruvian lily

Height: 60-90cm (2-3ft)

Planting distance: 30cm (1ft)

Features: flowers summer

Soil: fertile, well-drained

Site: sun, shelter

Type: rhizome

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 from white and light pink to yellow, salmon, coral, flame, orange and red, often with attractive markings on the petals, appear in the summer. They are carried on slender stems adorned with silvery, twisted leaves.

Popular species and varieties:

Alstroemeria aurantiaca (syn. A. aurea) is one of the hardiest and most flamboyant species. Its fiery orange, trumpet-shaped flowers, finely lined with maroon on the upper petals, create a magnificent blaze of colour. Popular varieties:

include ‘Lutea’, which has bright yellow flowers with carmine markings, and ‘Orange King’, with orange blooms. All stand 90cm (3ft) high. They can be invasive.

‘Ligtu Hybrids’ are also hardy and come in a wide range of colours, including white, pink, scarlet, flame orange and yellow. They stand 60-90cm (2-3ft) high and flower in early summer.

Cultivation

Buy the fleshy roots in containers and plant from early spring on, in any well-drained soil. Peruvian lilies dis-like root disturbance so choose a sheltered site.

Plant the rhizomes in groups, 15cm (6in) deep and 30cm (Iff) apart.

Peruvian lilies usually take two years to become established and flower. The plants may need staking for support.

Apply liquid manure during and after flowering. Deadhead the flowers regularly and cut the stems down in autumn when the leaves have died down – the seedheads are decorative and can be used in dried flower arrangements.

Protect from winter frosts with a thick mulch.

Propagation: Every three or four years, lift and divide established plants into several sections in early or mid spring, and replant 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 – yellow mottling on the leaves is a symptom.

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