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What is Alstroemeria?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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Originating from South America, alstroemeria is a flowering plant with blooms that are frequently used in florists' bouquets. It is characterized by thick, green, herbaceous stems leading to colorful blooms with petals that scallop like tissue paper. This plant can also be called a Peruvian lily or a parrot lily, especially by florists.

The flowers of this plant can be one solid color, or they can show a combination of colors on the same petal. Common colors seen in this type of flower include cream, red, pink, yellow, orange, and a blended orange sunset shade. In bouquets, this type of flower is often arranged on its own in a big bunch or paired with roses, carnations or stargazer lilies.

In addition to their roles as striking gift flowers for cut bouquets, the alstroemeria plant is also used as a common houseplant and landscaping plant. Though it is easy to care for an alstroemeria, this plant can be killed by overwatering, extended drought, boggy soil, and extended temperatures below the freezing point. This kind of flower blooms in warm weather and thrives in soil with rapid drainage. In general, different varieties of this flower type are used for landscaping, houseplants, and cut-flower bouquets. Generally, the most popular types of alstroemeria include Princess Angela, Freedom, and Sweet Laura.

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Because they lack a detectable fragrance, this type flower is an especially recommended gift flower for recipients with respiratory allergies or sensitivity to fragrance. Alstroemeria are also prized for their long life as cut flowers. Wilting alstroemeria bouquets have been known to take on a second life if the cut ends of the stems are trimmed and placed in a vase of clean water. Because this type of flower can continue to open and bloom after it is cut, the Peruvian lily can be cut from the plant while its bud is still closed without affecting its ability to bloom into a full flower once it reaches the gift recipient.

One drawback to this type of flower is that alstroemeria is poisonous. If consumed, any part of the plant has enough toxins to seriously sicken a person or kill a small animal. This plant is also poisonous to humans who have skin contact with the sap that comes from the plant. Its excretions can cause severe eye and skin irritation. Symptoms of poisonous exposure to alstroemeria secretions include blistering, seeping, or crusting skin near the area that had contact with the plant.

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