Table of contents:
Alstroemeria family. Homeland - the subtropics of South America (Chile, Brazil, Peru). In nature, there are about 60 species.
The name of the genus was given by Karl Linnaeus in honor of the Swedish naturalist and botanist Claes Alströmer. When pronouncing the name of this flower, the sound "ё" should sound - according to the historical pronunciation. But we, Russians, do not like to break the language, and often the letter "o" sounds in the name of the plant - Alstroemeria.
These are herbaceous rhizome perennials. The roots have tuberous fusiform outgrowths. The stems are erect, bushes grown in the open field can reach more than 1.5 m and require a garter to a support. Shoots of two types: vegetative, on which only leaves develop, and reproductive type, bearing flower stalks. Leaves are alternate light green, linear, slightly wavy. The generic feature of this plant is leaf resupation. The leaf petiole, or rather even the petiolate lower part of the leaf (the petioles are practically not pronounced) is twisted by 180 °, and the lower part of the leaf turns out to be located upwards, and vice versa, the upper part of the leaf "looks" down. Umbrella inflorescences bear 10-20 zygomorphic flowers, very similar to orchid flowers. The calyx is formed by six petals,arranged in two circles of three. The fruit is a box, like a poppy.
At home or as a greenhouse plant, as well as for cutting, they grow mainly not species alstroemeria, but hybrid ones. They differ in the most varied color of flowers - orange, yellow, red, pink, purple, lavender, salmon and white, in general, all colors except true blue.
Alstroemeria can be grown as garden plants. To do this, ask for seeds of cold-tolerant hybrids, such as "Funny Moths". In the southern regions of Russia, it is grown all year round in the open field, only covering it with spruce branches for the winter. In central Russia, it is dug up in October and stored in a cellar (in the ground in small pots) along with other garden flowers, for example, dahlias.
Alstroemeria care at home
Prefers moderate temperatures. In summer, ordinary indoor, but optimally about 20-22 ° C, in winter about 13-15 ° C, at least 8 ° C, despite the fact that species of alstroemeria can withstand even small frosts, hybrid plants sold in stores are not so frost-resistant. But they all dislike the heat in the same way. At temperatures above 28 ° C, the plant freezes in growth, quickly sheds flowers, withers. Too high a temperature of the alstroemeria in winter prevents the formation of flower buds, and the plant may not bloom.
Alstroemeria loves light, it can in no way be attributed to shade-tolerant plants, but if in autumn and winter it can be kept on the south window, then in spring and summer it is necessary to shade at noon hours of the day (i.e., partially direct sun, partially bright diffused light). For successful flowering, the duration of daylight hours should be at least 13-14 hours. Therefore, supplementary lighting is used for it using fluorescent lamps.
In spring and summer it is moderate, the soil should have time to dry out. In winter, watering is limited, depending on the temperature. Alstroemeria does not tolerate stagnation of water in the roots, excessive watering, but it is also impossible to allow strong drying of the earth. During the growing season, ideally, watering should be such that the soil is constantly in a slightly moist state. Only soft water is used for irrigation.
Alstroemeria does not tolerate high doses of nitrogen in fertilizers, so use only fertilizers for ornamental flowering plants, for example, Fertika (NPK 16-20.6-27.1) or for bulbous plants - Fasco Onion (NPK 7-9-12), Etisso (NPK 3.8-7.6-7.5) and the like.
If the air temperature is moderate, then the plant does not require leaf spraying. On hot days in summer, you can spray with warm water in the morning or evening.
Potted alstroemeria are transplanted annually in the spring. Their root system is quite powerful. Soil mixture: 2 parts of leafy soil, 1 part of peat soil, 1 part of humus soil and 1 part of perlite, 1 part of pine bark. pH is weakly acidic and acidic (preferably pH = 5-5.5), alstroemeria does not tolerate alkaline soils. You can use soil for azaleas and rhododendrons. Good drainage at the bottom of the pot is essential.
By seeds or by dividing the rhizome. Seeds are sown in February, in slightly moist peat soil and stratified at a temperature of 2-4 ° C for 1-2 months, then the temperature is gradually increased to 20-25 ° C. As soon as shoots appear, you need to provide them with good lighting, regularly ventilate the greenhouse, for 30 minutes 2-3 times a day. With the growth of seedlings, the greenhouse cover or glass from the bowl is gradually removed, accustoming young plants to drier air.
Diseases and pests of alstroemeria
Most often, the plant is harmed by thrips, and when kept in warm or hot conditions, mites.
Thrips hide in buds and flowers, they are difficult to find on variegated petals, and puncture marks, highlighted silvery spots and strokes are clearly visible on the leaves. It is easiest to deal with thrips with systemic insecticides - actara or confidor, by watering the soil.
Of the diseases, the most serious are root rot, late blight, fusarium - from excess moisture in the soil and stagnant water, as well as gray rot - it appears as a result of high humidity and poor ventilation of the premises. Be sure to sterilize your garden soil before transplanting or sowing.