Alstroemeria psittacina, also known as parrot lily, parrot flower, or lily of the Incas, is a perennial plant that belongs to the alstroemeria family. It is native to Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, but it is widely cultivated around the world for its ornamental value. It is one of the most popular and easy-to-grow alstroemerias, with compact and uniform mounds of finely-textured leaves, topped with upright flower spikes in summer. The flowers are tubular, two-lipped, and four-lobed, with a ring of hairs, called the beard, on the lower lip. They have a striking color combination of red, green, and purple, resembling the feathers of a parrot. In this article, we will learn more about the characteristics, growth, care, propagation, and types of alstroemeria psittacina.
Alstroemeria psittacina is a herbaceous plant that grows from creeping rhizomes, which are underground stems that store food and water. The plant has sword-shaped, semi-evergreen leaves that are green, silver, or yellow, and may have white or yellow spots or stripes. The flowers are arranged in clusters or solitary, and bloom from late spring to early fall. The fruits are dry capsules that contain one or two seeds.
Alstroemeria psittacina is classified by height and flower size into six groups: miniature dwarf, standard dwarf, intermediate, miniature tall, border, and tall. The height ranges from 8 inches to 40 inches, and the flower size ranges from 2 inches to 7 inches. The flower color can vary from red to purple, and some varieties have bicolors, stripes, spots, or gradients. Some of the most popular and common varieties of alstroemeria psittacina are:
- ‘Fringe of Gold’: This variety has light purple petals with yellow edges and a yellow beard. It is a tall alstroemeria that grows up to 36 inches tall and blooms in late spring.
- ‘Hello Darkness’: This variety has dark purple petals with a black beard. It is a tall alstroemeria that grows up to 37 inches tall and blooms in mid to late spring.
- ‘Lent A. Williamson’: This variety has lavender-blue petals with a white beard. It is a tall alstroemeria that grows up to 40 inches tall and blooms in mid to late spring.
- ‘Purple Serenade’: This variety has mulberry-claret petals with a yellow beard. It is a tall alstroemeria that grows up to 37 inches tall and blooms in late spring or early summer.
- ‘Victoria Falls’: This variety has light blue-violet petals with a white beard. It is a tall alstroemeria that grows up to 40 inches tall and blooms in mid to late spring.
“Alstroemeria, also known as Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas, represents a diverse genus admired for its unique characteristics. However, it’s worth noting that the term ‘purple bearded iris‘ refers to a different plant species. Purple bearded iris (Iris germanica) is recognized for its striking purple-hued blooms adorned with ‘bearded’ structures, known as ‘standards’ and ‘falls,’ creating a captivating appearance. These irises thrive in various climates, offering an array of colors beyond purple, enhancing garden landscapes with their regal and elegant presence. The intricate patterns and textures of their blooms make them sought-after ornamental plants in gardens and floral displays, contributing to the vibrant tapestry of flowering perennials.”
How to Grow Alstroemeria psittacina?
Alstroemeria psittacina is easy and adaptable to grow in almost any garden, as long as it has the right soil and light conditions. It can be planted from seeds, cuttings, or divisions, or bought from nurseries or garden centers, and transplanted to the desired location.
To plant alstroemeria psittacina from seeds, you will need to sow the seeds in early spring or late summer, but well before freezing temperatures arrive. You will need to loosen the soil and add seed-starting mix. You will then need to sprinkle the seeds sparingly on top of the soil mixture, and cover them lightly with soil or vermiculite. You will need to water the area well, and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. You can expect the seeds to germinate in about one to three months, and you can thin out the seedlings to 12 inches apart.
To plant alstroemeria psittacina from cuttings, you will need to take semi-hardwood cuttings from healthy and mature plants in late summer or early fall, and remove the lower leaves and any flowers or buds. You will then need to dip the cut ends in rooting hormone, and insert them in pots or trays filled with moist and sterile potting mix. You will need to cover the pots or trays with plastic bags or domes, and place them in a warm and bright location, such as a windowsill or under a grow light, and keep the soil moist but not soggy. You can expect the cuttings to root in about two to four months, and you can transplant the rooted cuttings to larger pots or outdoors when they are well established.
To plant alstroemeria psittacina from divisions, you will need to dig up the clumps of mature and healthy plants in late winter or early spring, and carefully separate them into smaller pieces, making sure each piece has some roots and stems. You will then need to replant the divisions in pots or outdoors, and water them well. You can expect the divisions to grow and flower in the same year.
To plant alstroemeria psittacina from nursery plants, you will need to choose healthy and well-branched plants that suit your garden conditions, and transplant them to your desired location in late winter or early spring, before they start to bloom. You will need to dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball, and loosen the soil at the bottom. You will then need to place the plant in the hole, and fill it with soil, making sure the top of the root ball is slightly above the soil level. You will then need to water the plant well, and mulch around it to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Alstroemeria psittacina prefers a sunny to partly shady spot, with some protection from strong winds and hot afternoon sun. It also prefers well-drained, moist, rich, and acidic soil, with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. It does not tolerate wet, soggy, or alkaline conditions. It can grow in zones 4 to 8, and can withstand some frost and snow.
Alstroemeria psittacina Care
Alstroemeria psittacina is a low-maintenance and adaptable plant that does not need much water or fertilizer, as it can thrive in natural conditions. However, it may benefit from some organic matter, such as compost or manure, in the spring to boost its growth and flowering. It can also be deadheaded to prolong its blooming period and prevent self-seeding, and pruned to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged leaves and flowers.
Some tips for alstroemeria psittacina care are:
- Water: Alstroemeria psittacina has average moisture needs, and can tolerate short periods of drought. However, it is advisable to water it weekly during hot and dry summer months, to keep it green and healthy. Avoid overwatering, as it can cause root rot and fungal diseases.
- Fertilizer: Alstroemeria psittacina does not need much fertilizer, as it can grow well in poor soil. However, it may benefit from some organic matter, such as compost or manure, in the spring, to provide some nutrients and improve the soil structure. Avoid using chemical fertilizers, as they can burn the roots and alter the soil pH.
- Pruning: Alstroemeria psittacina does not need much pruning, as it has a neat and compact habit. However, it can be deadheaded to remove the faded flower stalks, and prevent self-seeding. It can also be pruned to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged leaves and flowers, and to shape and rejuvenate the plant. Pruning should be done after flowering, usually in late summer or early fall. Pruning should be done with sharp and clean tools, and about one-third of the old foliage should be cut back to the ground.
- Mulching: Alstroemeria psittacina can benefit from some mulch, such as bark, straw, or gravel, to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the roots from extreme temperatures. Mulch should be applied in a thin layer, about 2 to 3 inches thick, and should not touch the base of the plant, as it can cause rot and disease.
Alstroemeria psittacina Propagation
Alstroemeria psittacina can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, or divisions, as described above. The easiest and fastest method is by division, which can be done every two to three years, in late winter or early spring. Division can help to rejuvenate the plant, and provide more plants for the garden.
To propagate alstroemeria psittacina by division, you will need to follow these steps:
- Dig up the clump of alstroemeria psittacina, and shake off any excess soil.
- Cut or pull apart the clump into smaller pieces, making sure each piece has some roots and stems.
- Replant the divisions in pots or outdoors, and water them well.
- Care for the new plants as usual, and enjoy their colorful beauty.
How to change the color of alstroemeria psittacina?
You cannot change the color of alstroemeria psittacina, as it is a natural and stable trait of the plant. The only way to have a different color of alstroemeria psittacina is to plant a different variety or species
How to preserve the color of alstroemeria psittacina?
You can preserve the color of alstroemeria psittacina by providing it with the optimal growing conditions, such as full sun, well-drained soil, and moderate water and fertilizer. You can also prune the plant in late winter or early spring, to remove any faded or brown foliage, and to maintain its shape and health.
How to dye alstroemeria psittacina?
You cannot dye alstroemeria psittacina, as it is a living plant that has its own pigmentation. Any artificial dye that you apply to the plant will not be absorbed or retained, and will only damage the plant or wash off. If you want to have a different color of alstroemeria psittacina, you will have to plant a different variety or species of alstroemeria, such as alstroemeria aurea or alstroemeria ligtu.