Alstroemerias And Other Spring Planting Activity

Alstroemeria 'Rock and Roll', planted 2014

Species Alstroemeria tend to spread widely and flop over.  The long stems, good for cut-flower purposes, are less so for garden display.

'Rock and Roll''s distinctive feature is variegated foliage.  Out of bloom, it looks very much like a small-leafed Hosta.  This is excellent for gardeners (me!) who long to grow Hostas but cannot, due to a lack of winter chill, which Hostas require.  'Rock and Roll''s flowers rise up 12-36' inches above the more compact foliage, and flop over.  It has not spread widely, perhaps due to the variegation which nearly always tends to slow a plant down.  I'd be happy if this plant never bloomed.  This one is all about the foliage. 
Newer hybrids have been developed that eliminate most of the spreading and flopping.   Recent "series" of Alstroemerias have both root systems and flower stems that stay compact, and are marketed as ideal for containers.  These series include: "Inca", "Colorita", and "Little Miss".

 Planted 2016, Alstroemeria 'Inca Husky'.  It has stayed about 16" wide and 10"-14" tall.  
 Alstroemerias are best here with some moisture in the soil, and afternoon shade.  Both 'R&R' and 'Husky' are in the Acer 'Oshio Beni' bed, which supplies those requirements.  Both plants have done well in this location.  The orangey-red color in the flowers echo the reddish foliage of the Acer.  The plants go dormant in the heat of summer...I think.  Sometimes, they don't. 

This winter's rain did wonders for the Acer. 
 Lately, many Alstroemerias have been featured in local nurseries at good prices, so I bought a few more to enliven the Acer bed:  "Colorita" series 'Kate' (orange-red flowers) and 'Tamora' (purple), and "Little Miss" series 'Little Miss Zoe', which like 'Rock n Roll', has variegated foliage. 
'Colorita Tamora'

While planting the new Alstroemerias, it occurred to me this area would also be a good place for three Mangaves that have been languishing in pots.  Mangaves also seem to be best with afternoon shade and some moisture.

I moved the recently added Bromeliad stump #1 about 3 feet, into a slightly shadier spot, and got to work.  Arrows indicate the stump, the Alstroemerias, and the Mangaves.  The ground cover is Dichondra argentea just waking up from winter dormancy.  The Dichondra will look great when the Alstroemerias vanish for the summer...if that is when they vanish.  Other plants in the bed besides the Acer are Hellebores, an Itoh Peony, Abutilon 'Souvenir de Bonn', a couple of Fuchsias, Sedum 'Angelina', and a Hydrangea that I didn't get around to moving this winter.  Next year.  The Hydrangea flowers (blue/purple/pink) clash painfully with the rust-red color of the Acer leaves.

A retaining wall at the back of the bed, plus afternoon shade from the house, holds moisture in this area.  Some of the bed is infiltrated with Maple and Parthenocissus tricuspidata roots, so I had no luck finding a place for one of the Mangaves and one of the Alstroemerias.  Too many roots in the exact places I wanted to plant them.

'Little Miss Zoe' therefore went in the partial shade of a rose elsewhere by the veggie garden gate.  Good to experiment with another location, anyway.  The last Mangave still awaits a planting place. 
Besides the Alstroemerias and Mangaves, other planting/moving before summer heat arrives.  

Cordyline 'Electric Shock' got out of a pot and into the ground in the back gully.  Two Cordyline 'Festival Grass' planted late last year in this area are doing really well.   The small Arctostaphylos 'Louis Edmunds' (barely visible between the trellis and 'Electric Shock') finally has a tiny bit of new growth, so we'll call that encouraging.
 A Teucrium growing in a path got dug out of the path and into this terrace.  The two Clivias on the terrace above this one, once shaded by the now-gone Italian Cypress, were moved next to the Clivia already here.  They will be shaded by the wall adjacent. 
An impulse buy this winter was a big-box cheapo pair of Cannas-in-a-bag, that proved to be a single part slimy, part dried out Canna root when the bag was opened.  Initially the idea was to put it in the top of the koi pond waterfall.  However, because it might be treated with some sort of pesticide, instead it went into a pot.  Cannas get tall, with a vertical habit. could hide that pipe for the summer.  It needs a bigger pot, but first, it must grow.  Canna need a lot of water, which is why I was going to put it in the koi waterfall.  Maybe this year in a pot, next year in the waterfall, after any possible pesticides have dispersed or broken down.  This is definitely an experiment.  
The second stump, the one I dug out a week or so ago, got placed opposite the Acer bed.  More Bromeliads stuck on.
Bromeliad Stump #2:
While gardening away, I realized there are two empty places in the garden that can use plants.  Retail Therapy Opportunity!  The first place is by the archway on the north side of the garden.  There was a rose here (struggled, looked dreadful--moved) then a Stephanotis (reflected heat scorched it--moved) then a supposedly dwarf Tagetes lemonii (died).  

Maybe not shopping:  there's a Bougainvillea on the balcony that could go here.  Even the sub-tropical Bougie is struggling on the balcony due to ferocious reflected heat.  Bougies get huge in the ground, though...thinking...thinking...
The second empty place is the terrace where the Cypress were removed for fire-safety reasons.  It still needs shorter screening shrub(s) to about 12' high, so the patio has privacy from the neighboring house.
Bromeliad Stump #2 indicated by the arrow.  I didn't procrastinate about moving it!  Much.    
So far considered:  Podocarpus henkelii, Pittosporum 'Majorie Channon', Heteromeles arbutifolia,  a potted 'Eureka' lemon tree currently stunted and scorching on the balcony, Dendromecon harfordii,  more Callistemon 'Slim',  another Metrosideros 'Springfire' or two.  Each has advantages and drawbacks, the exotics a need for irrigation, the natives slower growth and unpredictability of habit.  Thinking...thinking...

As I've gained gardening knowledge, actual thought is going into what plants I buy and where I plant them.  Imagine having empty space to plant, but thinking through the options before running out for some Retail Therapy.  Weird! 


  1. Putting thought into what I buy/sow and where I plant it is my big plan for this year. Of course it means retrofitting prairie plants into beds that are full of other stuff and moving things around, etc. I wish I had put this much thought into the beds in the first place. But I didn't know then what I know now....

    1. Me, too! Not that I know anything, but maybe now I know a little. Gardening is a vast subject.

  2. Your Alstroemeria are tempting me to add to my own collection. Empty spaces are exciting (at least once you get over the shock of whatever you lost). However, I blinked when I read you're considering Heteromeles arbutifolia as mine has reached a humongous size. Granted, it's probably been in its spot for decades. It self-seeds freely too, although the seedlings aren't hard to pull out, at least if you get them early. We had to get our tree service in to cut the offspring of my large specimen level to the ground. We didn't want to risk grinding down the stump as it sits atop a slope over the neighbor's driveway and it now seems to be trying to produce branches from its base...

    1. Toyon are native right to my area--still growing wild in the neighborhood--so that makes it something to consider. The can be pruned as a shrub. I have seedlings planted to replace my 'Marjorie Channon' hedge eventually. Toyon look decent without irrigation.

  3. I need to sort thru my Once Was wish list before the Kirstenbosch sale coming up in May. And some better choices, thoughtful choices, for the remaining small gaps.

    1. "Kirstenbosch sale" What treasures they must offer! A dream for a California gardener.

  4. You are a far better shopper than I. I'm incorrigible... This was a bad week for us plant addicts here in Portland. It was the weekend of Hortlandia, when every imaginable specialty nursery gather under one huge roof. I thought I had immunized myself against its temptations by going on a nursery romp a few days prior, but that didn't stop me from buying several plants I found irresistible. Now I am wondering what to do with my new treasures. It's clear some things have to go to, to make space... I don't think I will ever have a garden I can just relax in, and enjoy... sigh!

    1. Oh but that must have been fun! I would have gone wild myself. Not a lot of fascinating new stuff in the nurseries here this year---easier to be restrained! Enjoy those new treasures.

  5. I can't stand to see empty space. This often leads to purchases that aren't what they could be. One must carry on...

    1. It's good to experiment! It's how to learn.

  6. Last year, I planted a red Alstroemeria for the first time after admiring them in our nursery. This reminds me to see if it is alive. The flowers are so stunning. I'm thinking that these are the ones that last so long as cut flowers?

    1. They last forever as cut flowers, yes, and are unexpectedly tough plants, so you will probably see its return, if drainage is good.


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