Rock & Roll Alstroemeria

Jane McGary
Sat, 02 Jun 2012 11:17:04 PDT
Ina is right, alstroemerias don't do well in pots once they have any 
size on them. Part of it is that they don't have a lot of "feeder" 
roots and that the root system is evolved to range very widely in the 
poor, open soils where they have evolved (at least, the western South 
American species; I don't know if the Brazilian species are more 
compact but suspect they are). In addition, their root systems go 
quite deep and thus remain cool even in the hot, dry climates where 
some of them grow. I collected seed of A. umbellata in a canyon in 
the foothills southeast of Santiago and investigated how it was 
growing. The stems with their beautiful succulent foliage were 
spreading around in rough volcanic talus on a very steep slope, but 
30-40 cm below the talus layer was a layer of sand, or ash, in which 
the roots were growing, and this soil was both cool and moist.

A. aurea, however, is more adaptable and frequents both open, rocky 
sites and Nothofagus woodland. In south central Chile I have seen it 
rising up out of blackberry (bramble) thickets. I brought some from 
my old garden and planted it in a moderately well drained site in 
heavily amended clay, and it's starting to flower there -- even 
though my plants are derived from the well-known population at 
Chile's Termas de Chillan, where there is a lot of color variation 
and the alstros grow on a rocky slope in full sun.

Jane McGary
Portland, Oregon, USA

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