Alstroemeria, From Shipping Roots to Beautiful Blooms!
Gardeners believe in magic. This must be true, right? We plant strange, ugly little gnarled things in the soil and expect beauty and fragrance to grow. What's more amazing is that it works! :) Sometimes, it is the homeliest beginnings that yield the most beautiful blooms.
Consider ranunculus and their dried up dead spider looking bulbs - and the glorious blooms they produce:
We take bulbs and bare little sticks and lovingly tuck them into the soil, water them in and dream of the beauty they will produce. This act of faith is richly rewarded as our gardens grow and bloom.
Extend this faith to alstroemeria, and your reward will be months of brilliant blooms and lush, tropical foliage!
Pinching Back Alstroemeria
Being taken from the sunshine, wrapped up and tucked into a box without any air circulation, to ride in the back of a hot truck for days can be a bit stressful for some plants, especially those with foliage. Alstroemeria plants shipped intact respond to this with wilted and yellowing leaves. While this does no long-term harm to the plant, it does take several weeks for the plants to recover. Wouldn't it be great if there were a way to fast track that recovery, so you could get a jump on the growth and blooms of alstroemeria in your garden?
The good news is that of course - there is a way. And not exactly a "new idea", either. Shipping roses and fruit trees and many other perennials bare root without foliage has been the industry standard for decades. It is well established that these plants acclimate better and produce faster in your garden when the top growth is removed rather than allowed to become stressed in transit and then need to recover in your garden.
We have tested extensively with alstroemeria plants and have determined the same thing is true for alstroemeria. Pinching back all of the top growth just prior to shipping your plant results in a robust root system ready to burst into a flush of new top growth. Our trials consistently show that removing all top growth prior to shipping is the fastest way for you to enjoy a full, lush alstroemeria in your garden.
The reason pinching back top growth stimulates a plant to quickly grow more leaves and blooms was covered in detail in a previous article. It is due to the plant's need for balance between its top growth and its root structure. This is a key quote: "When we prune or pinch back the leafy top growth of a growing plant, we radically alter its root to shoot ratio. The plants respond to this by quickly producing a large flush of new top growth in order to bring that important ratio back into balance." When we pinch back all top growth right back to the soil line, we are preparing your alstroemeria plant for a big growth spurt once it is in your garden.
This is how we prepare and pack your alstroemeria plant for shipping.
Unwrap your plant when it arrives. You might see the tip of an eager new sprout as show here, or all may still be below the soil line. It sure doesn't look like much here, does it? Like the ranunculus or the dahlia, this alstroemeria needs a bit of faith from the gardener before it works it's magic.
When you remove the alstroemeria from the pot, you will see this robust array of roots. The slender little roots take up moisture and nutrition from the soil. The thick, fleshy roots store the nutrients from the roots as well as that from the leaves to supply the plant's new growth.
Here I have planted the alstroemeria I unwrapped. Pretty boring, right? But we know those roots hold the key to all brilliant blooms and lush foliage to come. It just takes a bit of time, warmth, water and sunshine.
Here is the same plant just 19 days later. You can see the first bud is nearly ready to open! Experience tells me this pot will be full to over flowing with foliage and flowers by mid-summer. How is that for garden magic?
If you need a plant to be beautiful this Saturday, it is best to buy an annual at a local nursery or home store. But for spectacular blooms for months each year with lush, tropical appeal - you just can't beat alstroemeria! Go on, and give this bit of gardening magic a try. You will be amazed by the results!
I hope you are enjoying the warming temperatures and getting your garden ready for summer! Check back for more articles on garden magic!
- Tags: FYI
- Kathleen McCarthy