How to Grow and Care for Alstroemeria Flowers

How to Grow and Care for Alstroemeria Flowers

How to Grow and Care for Alstroemeria Flowers

in this article, I’m going to show you How to Grow and Care for Alstroemeria Flowers. Alstroemeria is a commercially important rhizomatous plant primarily grown for its beautiful cut flowers and belongs to the family Alstromeriaceae.  These herbaceous perennials may grow to a height of 12 – 18 in. (30 – 45 cm) and are also popular as potted and garden plants. There are about 120 species under this genus,  distributed in Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela and Argentina. They are commonly known as Peruvian lily of the Incas. The inflorescence is a whorled cymos and florets and open one after another. Flower colours available are white, yellow, pink, orange, red, purple, lavender as well as multicoloured or bicoloured.

Climatic conditions

These plants thrive and flower well under full sunlight in cool subtropical climatic conditions. The optimum temperature range varies between 13 to 20 °C. during cooler months temperatures should be 10 °C at night and 16 °C in the day time. Most Alstromeriaceae varieties are long-day plants, hence light is critical and photoperiod of 13 to 16 hours is best for flowering. Additional lighting can be provided in cycles or continuous or at night break can be used. The longer the day the more rapidly the buds will form and greater the number of flowering stems and reduces the number of blind shoots. Too long a day results in a reduction of a total number of shoots. However, a partially shady location is preferable for better vegetative growth of plants. A relative humidity between 65 – 85% is also conducive for proper growth and development of these plants.

Growing media and planting system

Alstroemerias are rhizomatous perennials, consisting of fleshy and multi-stemmed rhizomes. The leaves are entire, grey-green to dark green in colour hairless and thick. Petioles twist 180 degrees on the stem, and hence the original underside becomes the topside. Deep well-drained soil rich in humus/compost with soil pH 6.5 are good for cultivation of Alstroemerias. A 03-inch layer of mulch will help to maintain soil moisture: studies have shown that mulched plants grow faster than non – mulched plants, straw, shredded bark or grass clippings are all suitable mulches for Alstroemerias.

How to Grow and Care for Alstroemeria Flowers

Planting of rhizomes can be done year-round when weather is not too damp and windy. Soil should be prepared well up to 30cm depth and mixed with an adequate amount of dry cattle manure or compost at the rate of 75 metric tones per hectare. The rhizomes are planted at a depth of 7.5 to 10cm or a depth that is three times their width or at least  ½cm bulb – depth depending on varieties: these are spaced at a distance of 40*50 cm or 60*30 cm. two rows of rhizomes are planted per bed at 40 – 60cm distance and beds need to be 18 inches deep. Bes should be prepared long and 90cm – 1m wide along with the 50 – 60cm wide paths between the beds.

Several varieties grow very tall. Hence support lines are set up on the beds immediately after planting. At the time of planting, 3 or 4 layers of wide netting is fixed and these layers are raised as the plants grow. The lowermost layer should be about 30cm above the ground level. once planted they  can be kept in the same spot for 3 to 4 years

Artificial illumination is required when plants are grown under greenhouse conditions and when day length is less than 13hrs. illumination could immediately proceeding or following the day. Prolonging the length of day before dawn of after sunset. Lighting may also be provided in the middle of the night. The night is interrupted during the required period of illumination. Light intensity of 30 – 40 Lux. Equivalent to 10 – 15 Watt/m² light bulbs are used

Irrigation

The growing media of Alstroemerias should be kept moist to dry. Overwatering adversely affects flower production and may cause root rot. Adequate ventilation and good air movement is required for optimum growth and flowering. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering is important for establishment. the first year is critical and hence it is preferable to water at least once a week and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes. Raised beds are preferable to sunken beds to help easy drainage

Nutrition

Application of fertilizer would generally depend on soil analysis. The soil pH of 6.5 should be maintained to be optimum level these plants are sensitive to high salt level in the growing medium Alstroemeria plants may be fertilized twice a month during their growing season with a balanced fertilizer or similar as granules or with drip irrigation. They require Ca(NO3)2  in the fertilizer program especially for the development of strong robust stems. Fertilizer application with 450mg N and 300 – 400mg K per plant per week is recommended for good growth and development of younger plants. Nitrogen should be preferably provided in the form of nitrates under cool growing conditions. To prevent the plant from growing too tall especially in potted plant production or growing in beds for landscaping less nitrogen (N) is provided in contrast to potassium (K): 12 – 14 – 24 or 10:20:30 (NPK) when grown outdoors growers can use slow-release granules (NPK:  16-8-16 or 20:20:20) application of substantial amounts of organic matter such as dry cattle manure during bed preparation as well as once in 4 – 6 months also recommended generally an N: K ration of 2:1 may be preferred for initial growth. However a change in ratio to 0:1:2 or 0:8:1 is preferable for flowering

  Propagation

Alstroemerias are usually propagated by division of rhizomes. Actively growing healthy and disease-free divisions are necessary. Around 10 – 15 days prior to division, plant are cut 15 – 20 cm above the ground level, leaving only the youngest shoots. Roots of the rhizomes grow 30 – 40cm deep thus roots need to be dug out properly to obtain the feeding roots along with growing points for preparation of divisions. 10 – 15 and 20 – 25 planting size rhizomes may be obtained from a one-year-old plant and two-year-old plant respectively. Rhizomes that are smaller in size or having week roots should be planted separately.

Propagation can also be done through seeds. F1 hybrid seeds are also produced in Alstroemeria. Generally the plantlet from seeds produces more lateral shoots when compared with multiplication by division. Seeds produced from more than one-year-old plants are generally sown under moist warm conditions at 18 to 25°C and kept for a month ; thereafter moist cool condition is required for another month. Propagation through seeds is rapid less expensive.

Pinching and Thinning

It is important to prune back and thin plants out occasionally. This will prevent them from completely taking over an area to the exclusion of other plants, and also will increase air circulation thereby reducing the incidence of diseases like botrytis and powdery mildew. It is recommended to thin out weak and blind shoots on a monthly basis from the production plot. A maximum of 30% of the plant may be thinned out at one time without affecting its growth.

Pinching assists in producing more compact potted plants and also induces the production of more shoots. Plants may be pinched when they are 4 – 6 inches in height when grown as potted plants. However, pinching  is not practised when Alstroemerias are grown for harvest of cut flowers

Flowering

High light intensities, long photoperiod and cool temperature are favourable for good flower production. In such conditions, plants will flower within 100 to 200 days, and continue flowering year-round. Generally they can produce 50 – 75 flowering shoots per plant per year under-protected houses.

Pests and Diseases

Insect  pests

Alstroemerias are infested by aphids, spider mites and whiteflies. Spraying of suitable insecticide such as containing Imidacloprid 200g/I SL. Thiamethoxam 25% WP or Aceramiprid 20% SP can help control aphids and whiteflies. While spider mites are controlled by the application of Abemectin 18 g/I EC, Azadirachtin 10g/I EC. Neem seed water extract Hexathiazox 10% WP Sulphur 80% WP/WG. Alstroemeria flowers are extremely susceptible to both snails and slugs, which can consume an entire plant. They may be removed by hand, or snail bait containing Metaldehyde 6.5% RB may be used to eliminate the pests.

Diseases

Botrytis, Pythium and Rhizoctonia are the diseases reported in this crop. Sterilized media and fungicide drenches are used at the time of planting to protect against these diseases, improved ventilation and restricted watering also helps to keep the plants free from diseases. Infection due to Botrytis generally occurs when humidity is continuously high, and water weather conditions are cold and moist. Brown spots are developed and are visible on the flower – petals on infected plants. The disease may be controlled by providing adequate ventilation and keeping the crop dry during the rainy season by cultivation under greenhouse conditions. Spraying of Mancozeb 80% WP/WG. Maneb 80% WP or Chlorothalonil 500g/I SC according to labelled instruction is helpful to control disease.

Root rot caused by the fungus Pythium is also observed under moist conditions in plants grown on heavy and compact soil. Pythium infected plants suffer heavy loss to flower production due to their rotten and damaged root system. Disease incidence may be controlled by sterilization of soil before planting, increased air circulation, decreasing the moisture content of growing media and application of Captan 80% WP, Thiram 80% WP or Thiophanate – methyl  70% WP

Rhizoctonia is the main cause of root rot, where infected plants show rooting of stems just above the soil level and after some time, crop growth is retarded ,  Avoiding wide fluctuations in temperature and watering in midday during warm weather leads to control of Rhizoctonia. Application of Captan 80% WP, Thiram 80% WP or Thiophanate – methyl  70% WP according to labelled instruction is also helpful in disease control

Harvest, Post-Harvest Handling and Packaging

How to Grow and Care for Alstroemeria Flowers

Harvest is done by generally pulling out the whole plant stem with flowers. The best stage for harvest for cut flowers is when the first flowers are fully coloured. Stems are pulled or cut depending on variety, length and firmness of the plants. When the stem is pulled with a piece of rhizome attached, cutting is required. Pulling is easier during harvest. While grading and bunching the white coloured, bent portion at the base of the stem is trimmed. It has been reported that increased water uptake and vase life was shown subsequent to removal of these bleached portions of the stems. Leaves are then usually stripped from the lower portion of the stem

Cut the flowers are sensitive to ethylene and hence they need to be pulsed with STS at 4 nM for 12 hours before storage or transportation. Cut flowers can be wet stored at 4°C for 2 to 3 days. Increase vase life. Prevention of yellowing of foliage can be achieved if the cut flowers are kept in a 100ppm GA3 solution for holding of flowers. For the local market, flowers are generally bunched in 25 – 50 and transported dry in cane baskets or boxes. Alstroemeria is usually sold in five stem bunches.

check out my other article:Cultivation of Cucumber (Complete Guide)

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