Exotic plants with fabulous flowers that look like colorful butterflies are astromelias. Its flowers resemble freesia flowers, but they are larger and much more attractive, occurring in numerous colors, often multi-colored. Flowers can be grown for bouquets and as a garden or indoor plant.

Description of The Astromelias

Astromelias or Lily of the Incas is a genus of herbaceous plants belonging to the Alstroemeriaceae family, numbering more than 100 species.

Its range covers central South America, from Chile to Ecuador in the west and to Argentina and central Brazil in the east.


Many species and varieties are grown for their original, long-lasting flowers for decorative purposes, as garden plants, or as cut flowers for bouquets.

Spotted patterns of different colors add charm to Astromelias – the most typical are shades of yellow, pink, or salmon. Like lilies, flowers are produced at the tips of leafy stems.

Sometimes, instead of the name “Astromelias”, the version “alstroemeria” appears, it is also known as the dwarf lily; Lily of the Incas (due to place of origin); or Peruvian lily.

astromelias flower

Botanical Characteristics

  • Astromelias plants with hard leafy shoots growing from an underground rhizome.
  • The rhizome is fleshy, white, branched. Depending on the species, the rhizome is shorter or longer, growing more vertically or horizontally. Stems grow from the upper part, and roots grow from the lower part, which can be thin or thick, tuberous (accumulative).
  • The stems are unbranched, and rigid, growing from the rhizome. There are vegetative (densely leafy) and generative (forming inflorescences) shoots.
  • The leaves are narrow at the base, entire, alternate. The leaf blades are twisted 180° (bottom side up), and wrapped around the stem.
  • Flowers – collected in an inflorescence, the branches of the first row form an umbrella, the subsequent ones form sickles with flowers developing sequentially, one after the other.

  • Individual petals are colorful, directed downwards along the inner whorl, different from the others, facing upwards. The petals are arranged in 2 circles, 3 pieces in each, there are 6 in total. The neck of the pistil is thread-like, there are 6 stamens.
  • The fruit is a capsule, there are many seeds.

Flowers appear on the plant in summer and form a large inflorescence at the top of an elevated stem.

Types and Varieties

Of the more than 100 species of the genus Astromelias, the most commonly grown are:

astromelias in pot
  • Astromelias pelegrina;
  • Astromelias Ligtu or Chilean (Alstroemeria Ligtu) – the most frost-resistant;
  • Astromelias hookeri;
  • Astromelias psittacina or pretty (Alstremeria psittacina);
  • Orange Astromelias (Alstroemeria auriantiaca);
  • Astromelias palida;
  • Golden Astromelias (Alstroemeria aurea).

Thanks to the unprecedented beauty and enormous popularity of Astromelias, breeders have developed many varieties that differ in height, flower color, and frost resistance.

Breeders are constantly crossing species to create subspecies that are even more spectacular and resistant to weather conditions, air pollution, and lack of nutrition.

By crossing species, it was possible to obtain lushly flowering varieties and hybrids, successfully cultivated not only as decoration for flower beds but also as extremely durable flowers for bouquets.

Single shoots ending in 7-15 exotic flowers can reach 120 cm in height.

Astromelias flowers after cutting can remain fresh for 2-3 weeks.

The most interesting varieties with two or three-color flowers:

  • “Tessumbre” series Tessumbre – 0.8-1 meter high, blooms from June until frost.
  • “Tesronto” Tesronto – tall varieties of Astromelias (80-100 cm) of compact shape. Blooms profusely all summer until the end of October.
  • from the Princess series “Teresa”, “Diana”, and “Sarah”.

Astromelias from the SUMMER PARADISE series have higher frost resistance. The varieties “Holiday Valley” and “Times Valley” are medium-sized, reaching 0.5 meters. Other varieties are 60-100 cm high.

Interesting varieties from this series:

“Indian summe” INDIAN SUMMER – tricolor coral and yellow petals with specks, young petals, and buds are dark burgundy.

“Summe Breeze” SUMMER BREEZE is a two-color variety, the petals are yellow with dark speckles and orange-yellow.


“Summe Red” SUMMER RED – a variety with red petals, 2 petals have a yellow speckled base.

“Holiday Valley” HOLIDAY VALLEY – with two-color flower petals; similar to the previous variety, the yellow areas of the petals have contrasting stripes.

“Times Valley” TIMES VALLEY – the color of the flower petals is delicate, creamy white with dark stripes on the yellow areas.

Among the single-color varieties, the following are popular:

“Princess Fabiana”;

white astromelias

“Lutea” Lutea;

Some varieties of Astromelias are majestic plants reaching a height of 60-120 cm:

  • “Yellow King” Yellow King;
  • “Toronto”

Due to market needs, breeders have managed to obtain hybrids reaching a height of 20-40 cm, ideal for growing in pots.

Their long flowering period will allow you to turn balconies and loggias into blooming oases throughout the summer. Of the dwarf varieties growing up to 25-40 cm, the following are known:

  • “Matilda” Mathilde;
  • “Louise” Louise;
  • “Tesblushi” Tesblushi.

Some varieties are decorative not only with fabulous flowers but also with leaves that, especially in spring, look as if they have been showered with glitter.

“Princess Fabiana” (lat. Astromelias × Hybrida Princess Fabiana) is a variety of variegated leaves, which are rare in Astromelias.

Bred in the Royal van Zanten nursery (Netherlands) in the Colorita series, it is characterized by a wide color palette, low, compact shape, and regular flowering repeats.

In the spring, the plant was transplanted into a large 30-liter pot, which was filled with 1/5 rocky gravel for drainage and 4/5 garden soil mixed with compost.

The next of the garden princesses is “Princess Felicia” (Latin: Astromelias × Hybrida Princess Felicia). The petals change color depending on the ambient temperature. The color is more noticeable in cool summers.

“Princess Mary” – the flowers of this variety are painted in several colors, depending on the sunlight. The warmer it is, the paler the flowers. A beautiful variety, not only in flowers but also in buds.

The beautiful hybrid Princess Sara attracts the eye with peach flowers, with hints of pink, and stripes.

In addition to the “Princess” series, which has a low, compact size, the “King” series is popular, featuring tall colors.

In warm climates, grown in the ground all year round, they grow up to 120 cm in height. Grown in containers, they are shorter but significantly outgrow low-growing varieties.

The Inca Lake hybrid is named after the Inca country where the plant was developed. Mountain Lake Incas is located in Chile (Valparaiso region).

Beautiful variety “Red” – with a compact form and red flower color, pleasantly contrasting with dark green foliage.

Frost Resistance

This perennial is difficult to grow in the garden in some regions due to its low frost resistance. The plant is sensitive to low temperatures and when planted in open ground, even shelters that are quite effective for other plants do not help.

Less sensitive are perennial varieties originating from Chile, but they are suitable only for warm regions of the country. Therefore, Astromelias are grown as an annual plant or in pots.

Depending on the variety and type, Astromelias have different frost resistance. The vast majority of varieties are sensitive to frost and are suitable for growing only in containers on balconies and terraces. They should spend the winter in a bright, cool room with a temperature of 6-10 °C.

Recently, varieties of Astromelias have appeared on the market that can withstand temperatures as low as -15°C, which makes them suitable for year-round cultivation in the ground in warm regions. These are varieties from the SUMMER PARADISE group:

  • INDIAN SUMMER Tesronto “Tesronto”;
  • SUMMER BREEZE Tessumbre;
  • SUMMER RED Tessumred;
  • SUMMER SKY Tessumsky “Tessumsky”.

The frost resistance of these varieties is moderate; they can be grown in warmer areas of the country, in warm, sheltered areas.

They should also be well covered for the winter with straw or non-woven material. Because these exotic plants do not tolerate wintering well, even varieties recommended for gardens in warm regions may not survive waves of severe frosts.

Soil & Temperature

Regardless of which variety and which method of growing Astromelias we choose, we need to provide it with the right conditions so that it can bloom profusely all summer.

To grow Astromelias, you need to choose a warm, very bright position, protected from direct sun. You also need to choose a place protected from the winds. The plant does not like low temperatures or too high.

Ideally a bright place with diffused light. The plant does not like southern balconies and window sills. It also does not like shadows; due to a small amount of light, flowering becomes less abundant.

In hot summers, a little coolness is needed, which promotes long-term flowering, so eastern or western exposure is preferable.

A place where the sun illuminates the plant in the morning until 10-11 am and in the evening after 6 pm is ideal.

Astromelias needs soil with the following characteristics:

  • fertile;
  • humus;
  • permeable;
  • constantly slightly damp;
  • with a slightly acidic pH (5.5-6.5).

Reproduction and Planting

Astromelias reproduce from rhizomes; they are very fragile, so you need to be very careful when planting or dividing the plant.

You can also propagate Astromelias from seeds. However, you can wait quite a long time for the first flowers. A plant grown from seeds blooms only in the third year. Sowing of seeds is carried out in February; Astromelias seedlings need to be grown at home for 4 weeks.

It is better to plant the seedlings immediately in their final location, without replanting them. When replanting, great care must be taken; the roots are very sensitive; it is better to transfer the plant with a clod of earth.

When to plant Astromelias? Rhizomes are planted in spring (March) in containers for growing in a greenhouse or on a bright veranda.

Planting in Pots

Astromelias rhizomes are planted 2-3 in a large pot. These can be special flower pots or boxes for the balcony. Initially, the plants are kept in a bright room with a temperature of 8-12 °C.

During the first month after planting, the rhizomes should be kept at a low temperature; it is not advisable to keep them warm.

Later, the optimal temperature for the growth of rhizomes will be around 16 degrees, that is, classic spring weather. Then you can keep the flowers in a room at room temperature.

The flowers will bloom in about 3 months. The minimum period from planting rhizomes to the first flowers is 20 weeks (in ideal conditions), but in the first year, there is little chance of seeing flowers.

They should be planted in pots with a capacity of at least 5 liters, 3-5 rhizomes per container. Astromelias love slightly acidic humus soil.

You can use standard all-purpose potting soil for indoor plants by mixing it with garden soil and sand. Ideally, this ratio is 2:1:1. It is necessary to pour a thick layer of drainage (pebbles, expanded clay) onto the bottom of the containers.

When the risk of frost passes (mid-May), we place the pots on the balcony or terrace.

Landing On The Ground

When planting Astromelias in the garden, you need to be very careful, as their roots are extremely fragile and can be easily damaged.

Astromelias are planted in open ground in the form of rhizomes or seedlings from containers, placing them in the substrate 3-5 cm deeper than they grew before.

For planting, dig a hole measuring 30x30x30 cm; put a 10 cm layer of decomposed manure or compost soil on the bottom. Fill the hole with fertile soil. On clayey, poorly permeable soil, place a 10-centimeter layer of coarse gravel at the bottom of the hole to drain excess water.

After removing the bush from the pot, place it in a hole 3-5 cm below the soil level, then fill the free space with fertile soil and trample it down.

The area around a newly planted seedling should be mulched (such as bark) to reduce water evaporation and discourage weed growth. During dry periods, especially on light soils, plants should be watered regularly.

Growing and Care

Astromelias are not difficult to grow. Anyone who loves exotic flowers can grow them. With proper care, they will delight the eye for many summer months.

In order not to make mistakes, and to properly care for and skillfully stimulate the growth of this unique plant, it is worth knowing a few rules for caring for it. The main procedures for growing Astromelias are adequate watering and fertilizing.

Attention! Astromelias juice irritates the skin (and mucous membranes), so care procedures should be carried out with gloves. It is necessary to avoid contact with juice with the eyes and mouth.


Before planting Astromelias, you need to place drainage (made of coarse crushed stone) in a pot or hole, covering it with a layer of substrate. Drainage will remove excess water from the roots.

This is important for plants grown in containers (excess water near the roots leads to rotting of the rhizomes and the development of fungal diseases) and for those growing in the garden (excess water in the substrate damages the rhizomes and further weakens the frost resistance of plants).

Before heavy rains begin, it is recommended to move more valuable plants indoors to prevent them from being damaged by the rain and rotting.

Overdrying is also unfavorable; as a result of drought, the plant drops its flowers and shortens the flowering time.

the plant should be watered sparingly; the soil should be kept slightly moist. During drought, watering should be carried out regularly, especially for flowers growing on light soils.


Since the plants bloom for a long time and profusely, they expect additional feeding during the growing season. However, they are sensitive to soil salinity, so Astromelias should be fed with slow-release fertilizers.

It is better to use drugs with a high content of potassium and phosphorus. Long-acting fertilizers in the form of granules with an increased amount of potassium have good effects.

You should not overdo it with fertilizing; the plants are sensitive to the salinity of the substrate; and excess minerals can hinder growth.

Removing Faded Inflorescences

It is also worth monitoring the regular removal of faded flowers, this will extend the flowering period of Astromelias. Cut off faded flower stalks, but do not cut them off entirely.

Always leave 2 pairs of leaves on the shoots, which are necessary for the formation of new flower shoots. If the plants do not grow too much, we cut off only the old inflorescences.


When the season comes to an end, Astromelias grown in pots are moved to a cool room with a temperature of 6-10 °C and access to light. Too warm a room and early knocking out of shoots are unfavorable for subsequent flowering.

In winter, These plants are watered very sparingly, just to prevent the soil from drying out. When the shoots are dry, they can be trimmed.

You can put pots in the garden when the temperature at night is above 6-8 ºC, then we make sure that the soil in the container has constant moisture and fertilize it.

It is recommended to change the soil in containers annually, at least the top layer. Before the first leaves appear, it is necessary to provide a temperature of 12-15 ° C, with plenty of light and a constant flow of fresh air.

These plants growing in the ground can be dug up in the fall. However, this is not the best option due to the very fragile rhizome, which is easily damaged.

We cut the remaining plants in the ground short (to a height of several centimeters above the ground) and cover them well with a thick layer (10-15 cm) of bark, leaves, straw, or non-woven material within 1 m of the stems to protect them from frost. You can pour a bucket of dry compost onto a trimmed bush in October.

According to reviews from summer residents, frost-resistant varieties of Astromelia in this form in the Moscow region can survive the winter under the snow.

However, if there is little snow in winter, the layer of shelters needs to be thicker. If there is no snow and frosts become severe, you should put spruce branches on top. In the spring, the shelter needs to be cleared and the plants covered with lutrasil from spring frosts.

In Landscape Design

Astromelias can be grown in pots and open ground as an annual and perennial plant. Potted plant is sold in over 190 different varieties.

For growing in a pot, varieties that do not exceed 20-30 cm are used. They are stocky, initially compact, and love partial shade and sun.

You can use flowers as ornamental plants in the garden. To do this, containers are placed in the most open areas of the garden:

  • at the gate;
  • at the entrance to the house;
  • near the porch, and veranda.
  • You can also plant it in flower beds.

Then the plant blooms profusely.

The plant can be successfully used as decoration for terraces and balconies. However, terraces or balconies must be covered to protect them from rain and scorching sun rays.

Flowers, due to their longevity, as well as a wide range of bright colors, are suitable for many occasions. For bouquets, varieties with long stems are used, growing up to 100-120 cm. There are two-color flowers with an increased number of buds.

Astromelias are grown in greenhouses, where the plant produces many flower stalks. The plant is perennial, so it can produce flowering shoots for many years.

As a result of crossing varieties, the quality of flowers intended for bouquets has significantly improved. These flowers have a sturdier stem and attractive green leaves.

As A Gift

This plant is also a good gift. For example, white Astromelias traditionally symbolize good friendship. A presented bouquet or potted plant will be an excellent gift that emphasizes the importance of the relationship.

White-spotted petals mean understanding, patience, sympathy, devotion, and respect, that is everything that true friendship should contain.

It is better to keep cutting its flowers in cool places. In a warm room, near heaters, or when exposed to direct sunlight, they will lose their freshness faster.

A bouquet should not be kept next to fruit. Ethylene released by fruits accelerates the aging of flowers. Cut flowers remain fresh in a vase for 7-14 days.