Alstromeria, Peruvian Lily:
Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality
Produce Facts in English > Alstromeria
Michael S. Reid
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis
Alstroemeria cvs. hybrids. In the last twenty years, the flowers of various commercial hybrids of species of the genus Alstroemeria, variously called Alstroemeria, Peruvian Lily, or Lily of the Incas, have become an increasingly important part of the commercial cut flower trade. The flowers come in a variety of types and colors. All have a long postharvest life, typically terminated by petal wilting and/or drop and yellowing of the leaves. The Swedish Consul in Spain, Kias Alstroemer, had seeds of this species brought to Europe in 1754. The famous plant taxonomist Carl Linnaeus, a friend of Alstroemer, subsequently named the species after him.
For long-distance markets, flowers are harvested when the buds are about to open and start to color. For local market, harvest is delayed until the first 3 flowers have opened. Flowers are pulled off or cut, depending on the variety. Where pulling may damage the underground parts of the plant (as in young plants of ‘Regina’), the stem should be cut. If flowers are cut, the remaining stem should be removed later. At least one flower per stem should be open at time of purchase. Purchase only by cultivar name.
Grading and Bunching
There are no official grade standards for alstroemeria, but in addition to the common characters of freedom from damage, and stem length, strength and straightness, it is suggested that the flowers in a bunch should be uniform. The flower head should be symmetrical, and the leaves should be bright green. The minimum acceptable number of florets per stem varies with cultivar but is typically 7 to 10.
Alstroemeria flowers are ethylene sensitive.
Although untreated alstroemeria flowers have a long vase life; petal drop (particularly a problem if there is ethylene in the environment) can be delayed by pretreatment with 1-MCP or STS. In some cultivars, leaf yellowing occurs before flower senescence. It can be delayed by a pulse treatment with a preservative containing growth regulators (gibberellins or cytokinins).
Alstroemeria should be stored at 0-1°C; present information suggests that alstroemeria can readily be stored for up to 1 week at 1°C.
Alstroemeria are normally bunched in 10’s, sleeved, and packed in horizontal boxes. The flower pedicels are affected by gravity and will bend upwards when temperature control during storage is poor.
When re-cutting, remove the whitish or blanched bottom portion of the stem, if present, for maximum solution uptake and life. Leaf removal will reduce vase life if enough flowers are not present for solution uptake. Since Alstroemeria is a member of the Amaryllidaceae, botanical families from which many pharmaceutical products are derived; it’s not surprising that some humans get allergic dermatitis from this species.
Source: Perishables Handling #92, November 1997