Value in a vase
Long life and extensive color choices are just two of the
reasons this cut flower is a great buy for both consumers and
by Monica Humbard
floral customers may not know them by name, but they certainly
will recognize Alstroemerias when they see them in bouquets.
These adaptable flowers find their way into many styles of mixed
bouquets and arrangements, but their extensive color range and
interesting bicolor choices give them the fortitude to stand
alone as well.
Alstroemerias’ outstanding characteristics have made them the
No. 4 most sold cut flower in the United States, according to
the cut flower import and domestic production figures published
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), following roses,
chrysanthemums and carnations. Here are just a few reasons why
these beautiful bloomers are staples in most floral departments.
RAINBOW OF COLORS The range of colors for Alstroemerias
includes hues of white, yellow, orange, apricot, pink, red,
purple, lavender and bicolors. Most have freckled throats
although the concentration of freckles varies.
Breeders haven’t yet achieved a blue Alstroemeria that is worthy
of the quality the market demands. However, Wilfred Keijzer,
production manager for Konst Alstroemeria B.V., expects a true
blue Alstroemeria to be on the market in the next three to four
STYLE FLEXIBILITY A member of the Liliaceae (lily) family
and a native of the South American Andes, the Alstroemeria,
whose common names are “Peruvian lily” and “lily-of-the-Incas,”
is nicknamed the “friendship flower.” And true to its name, it
seems to play nicely with a number of different flowers and in a
variety of bouquet or arrangement styles. It is at home in a
wedding bouquet with roses or in a playful party arrangement
with Gerberas. And because of its exotic appearance, it even
combines well with a bouquet of tropical foliage.
LONG VASE LIFE On average, Alstroemerias have a two-week
vase life, but Mr. Keijzer says they usually last even longer.
To capture the maximum vase life for consumers, he recommends
that retailers purchase Alstroemerias at the point when the
first flowers on the stems are open a little.
STEM STABILITY Along with a strong will to survive,
Alstroemerias have sturdy stems. This is one reason designers
like using them in arrangements.
AREA OF GROWTH As Alstroemerias have proved to have a
great value for both retailers and consumers, the U.S. supply
has increased a whopping 18.7 percent, from 224.2 million stems
in 2004 to 266.0 million in 2005, according to the USDA’s 2006
Floriculture and Nursery Crops Yearbook. Colombian growers
supplied about 96.9 percent (257.7 million) of those stems in
2005, and U.S. growers supplied 2.7 percent (7.2 million stems).
The remaining 1.1 million stems (0.4 percent) were imported from
other countries, including Ecuador, Canada and Mexico. (2006
figures had not been released at press time in March.)
care and handling
Although Alstroemerias have
a long vase life and sturdy stems, their Achilles heel
is a low tolerance for ethylene gas. The level of
sensitivity varies by cultivar. Wilted flowers and/or
petal drop can result from ethylene exposure. They also
can develop a somewhat transparent, water-soaked
appearance of the petals.
Based on his research, Terril A. Nell, Ph.D., AAF,
professor of floriculture and chairman of the
environmental horticulture department at the University
of Florida, says buyers should insist that Alstroemerias
receive anti-ethylene treatments as well as hormone
treatments to prevent leaf yellowing. His studies show
that these two treatments can extend vase life by 20
percent to 25 percent.
PROCESSING Before placing Alstroemerias into
flower-food solution, recut the stems and remove any
whitish or blanched bottom portions to enhance solution
uptake. Remove all foliages that would fall below the
waterline, but note that removing too much of the
foliage may reduce vase life.
STORAGE Store Alstroemerias at 36 F to 38 F for
three or fewer days. For longer periods of time, drop
the temperature to 32 F to 34 F.
CONSUMER CARE Advise customers to keep cut
Alstroemerias out of direct sunlight and high
ALLERGIES Alstroemerias are known to cause
allergic reactions on the skin of some people. This can
be avoided by wearing latex gloves when processing and
handling these flowers.
the many colors of alstroemerias
One reason Alstroemerias are so popular is the wide choice
of colors they offer. Here is a sampling of their versatile
Photos courtesy of Konst Alstroemeria B.V.
Care information provided by:
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
Wilfred Keijzer, production manager for Konst Alstroemeria B.V.
Terril Nell, Ph.D., AAF, the University of Florida
You may reach reach Monica Humbard by phone at (800)
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