Their exotic beauty and long vase life have made these awesome
blossoms consumer and florist favorites.
name games Alstroemerias are
most often referred to by their botanical name (pronounced
al-stro-MEE-ree-uh), but their common names are Peruvian
lilies and lilies-of-the-Incas, due to the form of the
blooms and the flowers’ nativity to Peru (home of the Incan
empire) and parts of Chile and Brazil.
The botanical name was given in honor of Swedish baron Clas
Alströmer, who brought seeds of this plant to Europe from
South America in 1754.
family ties The genus
Alstroemeria was originally classified in the
Liliaceae (lily) family and later in the
Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family. Modern botanists,
however, have created a new family, Alstroemeriaceae,
which comprises only Alstroemeria and Bomarea
color schemes Alstroemerias are
available in virtually every color except blue and usually
are spotted, striped, dappled, or tinged with yellow.
Peruvian lily, Lily-of-the Incas
Photo courtesy of Fresca Farms
Alstroemerias’ six-“petaled” trumpet-shaped blooms resemble
miniature lilies and appear individually on lateral branchlets
clustered atop smooth stems that bear scattered thin twisted leaves.
when and where Alstroemerias are
available year-round from both domestic and foreign growers.
Approximately 93.5 percent of the Alstroemerias sold in the
U.S. are grown in Colombia.
shop around Alstroemerias are
commonly packaged in 10-stem bunches. Look for bunches in which at
least one flower per stem is open (petals beginning to reflex) and
buds are mature and showing color. Watch for bruised florets and
crushed, yellow or moldy foliage.
take care Unpack Alstroemerias
immediately upon their arrival in your store, and check flower
quality. Remove all stem bindings, and strip foliage from the lower
portions of the stems—only the portions that will be under water in
storage containers (removing too much foliage can reduce vase life).
Leave plastic sleeves on while the flowers initially hydrate, to
reduce damage to the blooms.
the kindest cuts Recut stems with a
clean, sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Cut off any
whitish, or “blanched,” portion, if present, to enhance solution
here’s a solution Immediately after
cutting, dip or place the stems into a hydration solution to help
the flowers take up water more quickly, then place them into a
sterile storage container partially filled with either properly
prepared bulb-flower-food solution or low-dose flower food—made with
nonfluoridated water, if possible.
cool down Immediately after
processing, place Alstroemerias into a floral cooler at 33 F
to 35 F for at least two hours before arranging or selling them.
Unless you need blooms to open quickly, keep these flowers
refrigerated until they’re sold or delivered.
staying green Foliage can turn yellow
quickly. Hormone-replenishing pretreatments formulated specifically
for Alstroemerias and lilies (generally administered at the
grower or wholesaler levels), as well as “low-dose” (low-sugar)
flower foods or flower foods formulated especially for bulb flowers,
can decrease premature leaf yellowing.
energy stealers If any young secondary
buds at the bases of the Alstroemerias’ primary buds (or open
flowers) were not pinched off at the grower level, remove them to
promote the development of the other flowers and increase vase life.
issues with ethyl Sensitivity to ethylene
gas varies greatly by cultivar. Symptoms of exposure include wilted
flowers, petal or leaf drop, and transparent petals, so ensure all
your purchases are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower
level or during transportation. In addition, keep them away from
sources of ethylene in your shop such as decaying flowers and
foliage, automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke and fruit.
fact of life
Alstroemerias typically last from six to 14 days at the
consumer level, depending on variety and care (vase life varies
greatly by cultivar).
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