All About Alstroemeria – History, Meaning, Facts, Care & More

Alstroemeria is an ornamental plant that hails from South America. The perennial plant has the characteristics of a lily flower with deep and thick roots with spots, stripes or other markings. The plant grows up to 3 ft tall and has a vase life of around two weeks.

Characteristics of Alstroemeria

  • It exhibits zygomorphic traits meaning it is somewhat bilaterally symmetrical.
  • It has three sepals and striped petals, but not all have striped petals.
  • Its leaves are upside down.
  • It has thick and deep roots used for storing food.
  • It has delicate roots that can break easily.
  • It is multi-colored and shaped like a trumpet.
  • It can grow up to 1 meter tall and blooms early in summer.

History of Alstroemeria

Alstroemeria also goes by the name Inca lily or Peruvian lily. Such are its names because it originally hails from the cool mountain regions of Peru, Chile, and Brazil. The varieties found in Brazil often grow in summer while those from Chile grow in winter.

The South American plant was later introduced to Europe around the 18th century by the Swedish naturalist—Baron Clas Alströmer. The Alstroemeria genus was named after Alströmer by his teacher Carl Linnaeus, a botanical classifier for whom he collected the plants for a botanical garden.

Species of Alstroemeria

There are around 50 species of the alstroemeria plant. Today, there are many hybrids of the alstroemeria plant created in laboratories. There are already around 190 cultivars developed showing various colors and markings. Meanwhile, some popular species of alstroemerias are:

Brazilian Lily—Alstroemeria caryophyllacea

Lily of the Incas— Alstroemeria aurea

Lily of the Nile—Alstroemeria ligtu

New Zealand Christmas Bell/Parrot Lily—Alstroemeria pulchella

Purple Spot Parrot Lily—Alstroemeria haemantha

Peruvian Lily/Alstroemeria Princess Lily—Alstroemeria aurantiaca

White-edged Peruvian Lily—Alstroemeria psittacina

Meaning of Alstroemeria

The etymological meaning of alstroemeria comes from the Swedish naturalist Baron Clas Alströmer from whom it was named after.

Over the years, alstroemerias became popular in flower bouquets as a gift. Today, alstroemerias mean several things. First, it is symbolic of giving support to the recipient. Often, it is a flower that is given to someone who is going through tough times. It hopes to convey the message that the recipient will survive and overcome these difficulties or obstacles.

The second meaning is devotion. Alstroemerias are given to significant people in our lives. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a person we are romantically linked to. Alstroemerias make a lovely hand bouquet for a friend as much as it can make your girlfriend swoon. The color choice will carry a different meaning of devotion depending on who is the receiver.

Flowers of great hope, alstroemerias also cheer the recipient to go and follow their dreams. This makes a suitable gift for someone who is starting a new chapter in life such as a new job, moving to a new city, or welcoming a new member of the family.

Meanings of Different Colors of Alstroemeria

  • Red alstroemeria is the color of love and faithfulness making it the ideal alstroemeria for a romantic bouquet.
  • Pink alstroemeria symbolizes gentle feelings and a budding romance. It makes a great bouquet for someone you are romantically linked to.
  • White alstroemeria is significant of purity and spirituality making it suitable as wedding flowers.
  • Yellow alstroemeria means joy and optimism. It exudes positive energy in the home making it a lovely flower arrangement for home décor.
  • Orange alstroemeria means passion and awakening. It helps re-energize the feelings of the person to whom we are giving the bouquet to.
  • Purple alstroemeria is an elegant and graceful flower given to the unique people in our lives.

Facts about Alstroemeria

  • Alstroemerias may cause allergic dermatitis-like reactions in some people.
  • Alstroemerias can stop producing flowers when it’s too hot.
  • Alstroemerias have no fragrance.
  • It is known as the friendship flower.
  • The first growers of alstroemerias are Chile, Brazil, and Peru.
  • They have since become naturalized in Australia, Madeira, Mexico, New Zealand, the Canary Islands, and the United States.

How to Plant and Care for Alstroemerias

  • Alstroemerias have a vase life of up to two weeks.
  • Change the water when it starts to get cloudy and remove dead flowers as well.
  • Re-cut the stems at an angle to encourage it to keep drinking.
  • For growing alstroemerias in your yard, it is best to plant the seeds early in spring.
  • It can take weeks to a year for the seeds to germinate.
  • The plant thrives in slightly acidic, well-drained soil.
  • It does not grow well in clay-like soil.
  • Alstroemerias bloom well in full sun but they also thrive in moist conditions. It is best to water your plants regularly making sure the plants do not dry out especially in the summer time. Extreme heat can stop the plant from flowering.
  • The soil should be lightly fertilized once a month, especially during spring and summer.
  • During winter, protect the plant by adding mulch to the soil. Straw or bark will do.
  • During extreme winters, alstroemerias can be grown in greenhouses or stored in pots until spring when it can be replanted.
  • Use gloves when handling this plant.
  • Keep in mind to dig deep in the soil to avoid breaking the roots of alstroemerias.
  • Check the plants for dead stems and leaves regularly.
  • Prune your alstroemerias every springtime.
  • Pluck the flowers regularly to encourage re-growth.