Gimme the "low down" on Alstroemeria

paul_(z5 MI)May 14, 2014

So I came across a gorgeous red & yellow flowered Alstroemeria at Lowes. Unfortunately, it is only hardy to zone 7 and it would be quite an expensive annual. (In Lowe's defense, they did place them in their annuals' section.) I would love to have it on my balcony (unobstructed SE exposure, 3rd floor -- so full sun from around 8am-2 or 3pm). But the only way I could even consider that expense would be if it was easy to overwinter indoors as a tuber. If it is possible to do so, what kind of dormancy conditions would have to be provided?

And for that matter, do Alstroemeria bloom profusely enough throughout a summer to even make it worthwhile from that standpoint?

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Campanula UK Z8

I only have the common auriantica - supposedly something of a spreader but it has been well behaved for me, if fairly fleeting in the blooming stakes. I have, at various times, owned rather expensive highly bred alstroemerias, all of which have fizzled away under my negligent regime......the small princess types do have an extended period of bloom if they are well deadheaded and I would have thought it worth a punt - you can treat them like dahlias and store the tuberous root system you will be keeping them in a pot anyway (so you won't need to risk damaging the very brittle root) - why not?
I have noticed these are coming down in price quite noticeably - I wonder of micropropagation is involved, as at one time, they were really an expensive buy but can be had for considerably less in the UK. Maybe shop around and compare prices......

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 3:30PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I use to grow alstroemeria of some sort in a pot and would store it for winter (in the pot) in the coldest part of my basement. Since my house is around 100 years old, that part of the basement got pretty cold, but stayed above freezing. I just left it there all winter unattended until spring. Pretty easy as I remember.

Then just like about everything I use to grow this way, I tired of the process and into the compost bin it went.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 4:05PM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

I cannot help with overwintering, as mine stay in the ground. But I have learned a couple of things that are useful in growing alstroemeria. First, do not mess with the roots too much. I actually killed the first two I tried to grow by separating and spreading out the rootbound ball. Now I just loosen up the bottom curlers a little, and plop them in the ground. The next fifteen I have planted have all thrived.
Second, when the flower stalk has finished blooming, do not cut it off. Reach down to ground level and yank the entire stalk out. New stalks will soon grow to replace it.

Once I learned those two tricks, alstroemeria plants became easy to grow.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 6:16PM
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sara82lee(8a - SE Va)

I have the same Lowes alstroemeria, with the same red and yellow flowers. I put mine in a very large pot the first year I had one... but it didn't have good drainage. It did not like sitting in soggy soil all winter while dormant and it died. I HAD to get another one, it was so pretty... so I put more holes in the bottom of the pot to drain better and we've been happy together ever since.

It doesn't need really any special attention from my perspective. Occasionally I might pull off the withered flowers. It does bloom pretty much nonstop for me.

I can't help with the overwintering either, but mine dies back completely in the winter. . . I would imagine that it would probably work well.

This post was edited by sara82lee on Wed, May 14, 14 at 22:54

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:51PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Sara, almost any Alstroemeria would be hardy in all but the coldest SE Virginia winters, unless you plant it at the base of a downspout or something. (And assuming normal precautions like mulch)
For Paul, you will have to find a place to keep them cool and dry in the winter.

I have found them to be mix bag over the years. Some of Ellen Hornig's high elevation Chilean offerings were very fussy about our hot muggy summers, as you might expect. (though I've grown other Chilean geophytes that seemed perfectly happy along the Chesapeake Bay, there's not always much rhyme nor reason to it) The green-red flowered Alstroemeria psittacina was also never vigorous for me, but I know it wasn't the heat because I've seen huge clumps of it in southern gardens. (and Barry Glick seems to think it's rather hardy: At some point I tried one of the Mark Brigden UConn varieties, which should be zn 5 hardy with snow cover, but it was only a little more vigorous and I didn't really go for the look of the flowers so I got rid of it.
I had almost given up on them when I stumbled upon a variety from Edelweiss Perennials that has honestly been one of the easiest and showiest perennials I've ever grown. Blooms its head off all summer. Unfortunately, it's no longer on their website and I accidentally deleted the email order confirmation so I didn't make a note of the name. It was red with yellow spots. After this cold winter it's already grown up over 12" high and is about to bloom, while other broadly similar marginally hardy antipodal geophytes like Dieramas are barely peeking out of the soil.

I think a problem with them could be that they are heavy feeders and as a general rule I do not fertilize my garden. Whichever one I have from Edelweiss might just not be as hungry as the typical one.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 6:56AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Bummer. Dry dormancy would be easy. Cool and dry just about impossible in my apt. Ah well, better to find out now than to have made the purchase and found out later.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:03AM
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I thought there were varieties of Alstroemeria that are winter hardy to zone 5 e.g. "Sweet Laura". (Now maybe this can happen provided one does extra mulching and or placement of the plant near a home's warmer foundation).

(I think Canadian GW contributor twrosz who resides in chilly zone 3 or 4 of Western Canada has Alstroemeria out of doors).

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:49AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

There is also A. "Inca Ice", hardy in zone 5. It's been trialed at Walter's Gardens (MI I think?) for a number of years and has proven hardy for them.

We've sold them at the nursery for the past couple of years. My co-worker said hers has done well...not sure if it has come up again this (3rd) year for her. I'll have to ask.

I've killed my plant I believe. It might have been cuz' I "accidentally" dug the thing up, thinking the roots were dead. Lol.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:23AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

Don't care for Inca's color -- I prefer bright or deep rich colors. Despite being hardy to zone 5, it wouldn't survive for me anyway. Being a 3rd floor apt dweller, there are only two options -- the plant comes in for the winter (in which case it needs to handle a dry, warmish dormancy as there is no available window area or cool storage area) or it stays out on my unprotected balcony all winter long (in which case it is as good as dead).

Ah well, I can dream.

Thanks for the input, folks!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 1:08PM
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I was given some 2 years ago.. It bloomed well. It does spread itself out. I'm glad I read they were heavy feeders. Walked by & noticed the leaves look weak- this will be its 3rd year in my garden. Am looking forward to some spectacular bloomage !

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 11:22PM
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There is also A. "Inca Ice", hardy in zone 5. It's been trialed at Walter's Gardens (MI I think?) for a number of years and has proven hardy for them.

Did any GW members in zone 5 get "Inca Ice" to survive this past fierce winter planted in the ground?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2014 at 2:38PM
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Visited the garden of the friend who gave me the alstroemerias- his are growing crazy ! He has them in a protected spot - almost shady - in a low, damp spot. Make mine look starved. Those suckers were popping up all over the yard- of course- his yard is complete mondo grass- the whole acre. Gorgeous garden. Mature & lush.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2014 at 9:01PM
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