White Alstroemeria

Facts about the White Alstroemeria

            One variety of the Peruvian Lily family is the white alstroemeria; a particularly lovely and delicate looking bloom that adds grace and dignity to a floral bouquet or vase of cut flowers.  Before you decide to include it in your garden, however, there are some important and relevant points about the flowering plant that must be understood.

            Although one variety of the alstroemeria is called the Peruvian lily, it is not a true lily.  Its name comes from the fact that it is similar in appearance to lilies, albeit in miniature version.  They are perennial plants with bulbs and tuberous roots which multiply underground, producing new rhizomes.  The plant also produces a seed pod, which is unproductive and requires energy that keeps the plant from flowering.

            Alstroemeria is a plant genus with about 50 species; all of which are members of the amaryllis family.  It is indigenous to South America where it grows wild and became popular as a cut flower; a popularity that quickly spread to the remainder of the world.  The plant is known by several names; Peruvian Lily, Lily of the Incas and Parrot Lily are most common references to the same plant.  When growing, alstroemeria enjoys a cooler climate; a link to its history of growing in the cool temperatures of the Andes Mountains.  In fact, if temperatures become too warm, the plant will discontinue the flowering process and extend its energy into producing more of the tuberous roots it naturally possesses.

            Among the different varieties of the species, colors can range from white to vivid oranges.  Common garden varieties will feature green foliage that has an unusual habit of twisting upon itself as it leaves the plant stem, with the end result of it facing the ground.  As normally found in lilies and grasses, the veins of the plant leaves run vertically without branching off side to side.  On the white alstroemeria, three to five blossoms emerge at the top of the plant stem, opening to reveal creamy petals; some of which possess speckles of color within.  The blooms are heart shaped, endearing them to florists for use in wedding bouquets.

            The sad and unfortunate news is that most white varieties of alstroemeria as well as a few other extremely popular colors are unavailable for planting in the home gardens.  There are a few that are white tipped, or that feature white striped petals, but few that are regarded as truly white varieties.  It is said that there is a tightly held patent on certain colors of the flowering plant which has been meticulously developed over a period of years by hybridizers.  By making the white blossoms available only as a cut flower, it ensures that the demand remains high for the company holding the patent.

            For the time being, it appears that those who love the white alstroemeria variety will have to be satisfied with having them as cut flowers, which can be found at most florists at any time of the year or can be ordered whenever desired.  They have no fragrance, but do have a long vase life of 8 to 14 days.  The white blossoms are extremely popular for wedding bouquets, likely due to their lovely pure color.  In floral symbolism, the alstroemeria means wealth, fortune, and prosperity as well as considered to be a flower of friendship.

            Although it will likely be impossible for a home gardener to introduce a true white alstroemeria into their landscape, there are tipped or striped varieties that can be planted that are quite lovely.  Otherwise, the commercially available cut flower will have to suffice for those who desire the pure white blossoms of the Peruvian lily.