Saturday, September 15, 2007

Alstroemeria "Ivana", Inca or Peruvian Lily

In my mother's garden the Peruvian lily held a place of honor. This was a tough, strong-spreading, spring blooming orange, tall and a little floppy. Later years saw extensive work by specialists on this genus. First came the Litgu hybrid series, mostly still tall and a little floppy, but in a wide range of colors. More recently (since 1998) the distinctive Princess series of Inca lily has entered the trade and it is so different that it represents a new class of plant.

Rather than tall and floppy these are compact, sturdy and self-supporting, growing 10 to 16 inches (25-40 cm) tall. These need no longer be relegated to mid- or back-border positions. Rather than a single though satisfying burst of bloom each spring, these continue until cold fall or winter weather. There are now 21 color forms available, with more likely. Yellows, whites, purples, orange, reds, pinks and multicolors are all available.

Ivana Inca Lily

These are vigorous enough to make a good groundcover yet not unduly invasive. They lend themselves to foreground placement in your borders. Picking harmonious color groupings adds a great deal, and makes gathering cut flowers easier.

Summer watering and adequate fertilization with a low to moderate nitrogen fertilizer will result in more blooms. One simple maintenance technique also results in better plant performance: instead of cutting to deadhead or gather cutflowers, yank the stem out of the ground with an upward pull. This will break the stem cleanly away from the buried rhizome. Underground the plant keeps a ready store of buds, which are stimulated by this to sprout and supply new growth and bloom.

Established plants can be divided to make more. Otherwise leave them alone to spread and prosper. Unlike some perennials, they can be left indefinitely without harm.

Cold Hardiness: zones 11 to 8, if well mulched zone 7
Heat Hardiness: zones 12 to 7
They grow in full sun to partial shade, with best performance with the most sun. In the hottest climates some shade may be required.


carol116 said...

I'm hoping someone can give me some information. I live in mid-Missouri (zone 5-6), and have purchased a beautiful Alstroemeria Princess Ivana Lily. How might I keep this over the winter in order to keep this beauty forever? I can store it in my basement, but do I leave it in the dirt and planter... do I water it?
Thank you,

Bryon said...

In your climate you will certainly need to move the pot indoors during freezing weather. Keeping the plant dormant is your key to success.

Allow it to go dormant in fall before moving it in. It can be outside all the while heavy frosts are unlikely, even in mild spells in winter. Don't remove it from the pot, as the fleshy roots (technically rhizomes, underground stems) will dry out and die.

Give it minimal watering, too much can rot the dormant roots. And keep it as cool as possible to encourage a proper dormant period. Hopefully your basement is cool - too much heat will interfere will dormancy, which the plant needs. While keeping the container from freezing, try it in an area like a garage will minimal heating. If your garage freezes, by all means move it during cold spells to an area that is frost-free but cool.

And don't forget to fertilize once dormancy breaks towards the spring!