|These florist-type Alstroemeria have an extraordinarily long flowering period in the herbaceous border|
Please excuse the pretentious title but confident titles attractive search engine attention. My knowledge is little more than the average gardener but I like to pass on my own experience of growing. I feel many articles about plants are written by people who have never grown them, who have an axe to grind and trawled the literature to compose their pieces often written with absurd generalisations and dubious facts.
Even the RHS when I did a little browsing myself tells you to feed your alstroemerias weekly. Well really, I hardly ever feed mine except perhaps during propagation or to get a new plant going when it might get a light top dressing of a general fertiliser such as Yaramila.
|This yellow florist type alstroemeria has proved particularly hardy and reliable|
Writer Bunny Guinness, says alstroemeria are one of gardening’s best kept secrets! So many varieties are easy to grow, make sturdy long flowering plants of a quality for cutting every bit as good or better than the very same kinds expensively glasshouse grown and bought at the florist.
They require little staking. None at all in my own borders where I grow them in bold clumps. They are tolerant of most soil types albeit those short of extreme wetness. My own are in full sun for at least part of the day or in very light dappled shade. A particularly useful feature is that once established their deep tuberous roots enable survival in very dry places
What can go wrong?
|This dark florist type is only subtly different from my first illustration|
|They can be rather aggressive|
Auntie Margaret’s alstroemeria. A warning!
For several years we would make our three monthly visit to Huddersfield to see my widowed auntie and to do her more difficult gardening chores.
|It was a very startling orange one|
I don’t remember whether I planted her half metre clump of a rather distinct orange alstroemeria or whether it was there all the time.
It became apparent - she made it very clear - she did not like it and asked me to remove it. Some say I am stubborn, I was certainly tardy and failed to comply.
She secretly asked her jobbing gardener to dig it out. I never noticed as it always grew back. It has very deep roots and her man was merely propagating it.
Eventually she instructed me to get rid. Reluctantly I sprayed the whole plant with glyphosate and it was gone.
Brenda agreed with Margaret and declared “about time”
There are many species of alstroemeria although most are not grown in the UK. It seems to me that for most gardening purposes they fall into two types. For my pictures I call them type1 or 2
|This weak growing variegated one needs special attention|
Type 1 Once a year flowering and always yellow through to orange.
This kind completely dies down in Winter and flowers only once Mid June /July. Flowers might last a month if you are lucky but look rather nice - if you like orange! It often sets seed but only in unruly gardens where this annoying habit might be a good thing! Varieties’ colour reflect their easy hybridisation and their colour pallet is usually a spectrum of red to orange. They are reliably hardy as Auntie Margaret found.
|The once flowering kind|
Type 2 Often evergreen, hybrid florist varieties
Selections from those bred for flower production are the very best kind. They flower from May right through the Summer into late Autumn on sturdy stems with a fantastic range of multicoloured flowers.You need to cut out complete stems when they ‘go over’ to enhance complete continuity.
|They flower six months and soon fill the space when my Corydalis elatum dies down|
Don’t be fooled by the word ‘evergreen’, it’s more that they don’t always completely die down in the garden and commercial growers with heated greenhouses crop them in Winter.
There is a greater range available of hybrid types than I have reported today. To keep flowering through a very dry spell you might need to apply generous irrigation. Too much of an effort for me.
Although the once flowering type 2 can be easily raised from self collected seed it is not worth the bother when they can be propagated so easily by division. I have never tried seed of the hybrid type but suspect that their variability might be a problem although you just might get a fine new variety.
Division is very successful provided you go very deep. Thrust your spade in a long way, more than a foot. Their tubers form a long way down. Most gardeners fail to do this and bring up a spadeful of chopped off stems which always die. Providing you bring up the intact tuber division it is difficult to fail.(even if you lose a few shoots). Even in Summer, but this would be foolish unless you were moving.
Plants propagated in pots can be planted at any time of year as long as soil conditions are ok - not frozen, bone dry or flooded. Remember for summer planting you will need to water.
For more tender varieties plant deeply and/or mulch very thickly. The first two Winters are the hardest. By then strong very deep tubers will be established and be very well insulated.
What a difference a drought makes
We have now suffered three months drought with barely an inch of rain. Its been very hot and even cloudy days have been windy. I write my posts well in advance. In this case long enough to eat my words!
|This picture in May now seems a dream - now in September we have only once had proper rain|
It has become apparent in such extreme drought if they are not heavily watered the hybrid type are unable to support new growth of flowers. Watering established perennials goes against the grain for me but had Brenda not watered twice they would be in a very poor state now. Worse, the first strong flush of growth when it was still wet and windy were badly blown over! Brenda is crowing. So much for my comment about not staking! It’s not quite been a disaster and they will be alright next year. Those Brenda heavily watered are now in late August making new flowers. Some I transplanted this Spring and perforce watered more frequently look really nice.
Link to Bunny Guiness article