Alstroemeria - The Lily of the Incas

Alstroemeria aurea is also known as the lily of the Incas, the Peruvian lily or the Parrot Lily. They are like small lilies, but usually comes with spotted or striped markings, shaded colour, or contrasting patches. Alstroemeria is a tuberous plant that is native to South America. The plant requires a moderate amount of care. There are approximately about 120 species of flowering plants, mainly from the cool, mountainous regions in the Andes. All are long-lived perennials except A. (Taltalia) graminea, a diminutive annual from the Atacama Desert of Chile.

Kingdom: Plantae
Super Division: Spermatophyta 
Division: Magnoliophyta 
Class: Liliopsida 
Order: Asparagales 
Family: Alstroemeriaceae 
Genus: Alstroemeria
About the Alstromeria Flower and Plant
Alstroemeria is a slightly zygomorphic (bilaterally symmetrical) flower with 3 sepals and 3, generally, striped petals. The sepals and petals on the Alstroemeria are similar in color and texture - i.e., there are no solid green sepals. Alstroemeria has six stamens and an undivided style. The ovary on the Alstroemeria is inferior, with 3 carpels. Alstroemeria features a monocot plan of having floral parts in 3s.

Anatomy of alstroemeria flower

Alstroemeria is more like grass where the veins go up the leaves but none branching across. This can also be seen in grasses, Irises and Lilies. Alstroemeria leaves are upside down. The leaf twists as it leaves the stem, so that the bottom is facing upwards.
If you look at an Alstroemeria stem you can sometimes see a spiral growth pattern on the stem. This is due to the production of new cells in a spiral sequence and this is the cause of the head moving the way it does. If the soil temperature rises too high (above about 22 degrees Celsius) the Alstroemeria plant puts its effort into producing more large tuberous roots at the expense of flowering shoots. With some varieties this can lead to production of exclusively blind non-flowering stems and no flowers.

Alstroemeria PetitePlum in clump

 Alstroemeria aurea 'Peruvian lily' leaves close-up

 Alstroemeria tubers

Alstroemeria seed pod opening
Alstroemeria pulchella seeds

Growing Alstroemerias
  • Plant Alstroemeria should be planted in the spring in a location that offers full sun, especially in the morning hours and in well-drained soil.
  • Sandy loam to clay loam soil is best for Alstroemeria.
  • Add a light application of organic fertilizer to the planting hole.
  • Place the plants no deeper than they were growing in the containers.
  • Set the plants 1 foot apart.
  • Cut off old flower stems with bypass pruners.
  • Mulch around but not on top of the plants shoot in early spring, with 3 inches of organic compost.
  • Water well weekly until soil is completely moist especially summers, when there is no rain.
  • The soil should always have medium moisture with a pH level of 5.5 to 7.
  • Always alert for the presence of spider mites, slugs, snails and leaf spots on the plants.
  • Take care in transporting the flowers as the stem joints are brittle and easily broken.

Cultivation and uses
There are many hybrids and about 190 cultivars have been developed, with different markings and colors, ranging from white, golden yellow, and orange, to apricot, pink, red, purple, and lavender. The most popular and showy hybrids commonly grown today result from crosses between species from Chile (winter-growing) with species from Brazil (summer-growing).

This strategy has overcome the problem of seasonal dormancy and resulted in plants that are evergreen, or nearly so, and flower for most of the year. This breeding work derives mainly from trials that began in the United States in the 1980s. The flower, which resembles a miniature lily, is very popular for bouquets and flower arrangements in the commercial cut flower trade. It has a vase life of about two weeks. Most cultivars available for the home garden will bloom in the late spring and early summer. The roots are hardy to a temperature of 23 °F (−5 °C). The plant requires at least six hours of morning sunlight, regular water, and well-drained soil.
 Alstroemeria flower arrangement

Some Species of Alstroemeria
  • Alstroemeria aurea - Lily of the Incas.
  • Alstroemeria aurantiaca - Peruvian Lily/Alstroemeria Princess Lily
  • Alstroemeria caryophyllacea - Brazilian Lily
  • Alstroemeria haemantha - Purplespot Parrot Lily
  • Alstroemeria ligtu - Lily-of-the-Nile
  • Alstroemeria psittacina - Lily of the Incas, White-edged Peruvian Lily/White Alstroemeria
  • Alstroemeria pulchella - Parrot Lily, Parrot Flower, Red Parrot Beak, New Zealand Christmas Bell
Following pictures are some colourful variety of alstroemeria flowers:
Alstroemeria haemantha

Alstroemeria pulchra
Pale yellow alstroemeria
Alstroemeria aurea

Alstroemeria casablanca

Alstroemeria psittacina

Alstroemeria caryophyllacea

Alstroemeria aurantiaca

Alstroemeria ligtu

Some Interesting Facts about Alstroemeria

  • Alstroemeria flowers bloom during late spring or early summer.
  • Alstroemeria flower is symbolic of wealth, prosperity and fortune. It is also the flower of friendship.
  • Alstroemeria come in orange, pink, rose, purple, red, yellow, white or salmon colors.
  • Alstroemeria is named after the Swedish botanist Klas von Alstroemer, who was a pupil of the great botanical classifier Linnaeus.
  • Sometimes called Ulster Mary, obviously an easier pronounciation of it's botanical name, or Peruvian lily from the country of origin. Pronounced Alstro-MARY-ah.
  • The genus Alstroemeria consists of about 120 species.
  • Most modern hybrid Alstroemeria plants are propagated in a laboratory.
  • Many hybrids and about 190 cultivars of Alstroemeria have been developed, with different markings and colors, ranging from white, golden yellow, orange; to apricot, pink, red, purple and lavender.
  • Alstroemeria flowers have no fragrance.
  • These are also a popular choice of Mother's Day flowers because of their beautiful petals and delicate nature.
  • Alstroemeria flowers have a vase life of about two weeks.
  • Not all Alstroemeria have striped petals.
  • Alstroemeria stops producing flowers if they get too hot.

AQUATIC PLANT - Anubias barteri var. nana

Common Name: Anubias nana
Scientific Name: Anubias barteri var. nana
Geographic Location: Central Africa

CO2 Requirements: Very Low
Temperature: 72F-80F
Water pH level: 5.5-9.0
Light: Low (1.5WPG) to Moderate (2.5WPG)

Plant Arrangement: Foreground
Growth: Slow
Difficulty: Very easy

Anubias tied up to a rock, avoid floating

Anubias are an extremely hardy creeping plant from Africa, but most varieties grow far too large for normal sized aquariums. However, the Anubias nana is one of the smaller varieties, growing only about 6 inches tall. Like other Anubias, the Anubias nana grows very slow, at about one new leaf a month. The leaves are thick and rigid and almost nothing will eat them, making it perfectly suited for aquariums with more destructive fish. The leaves can also last for months, if not years.

A clump of well-rooted Anubias nana

Anubias are similar to Java Ferns in that they grow off of a rhizome which must not be buried in the substrate. For best results, tie the rhizome to a piece of driftwood or rock, and the roots of the Anubia will soon anchor the plant. Also, placement is key for these plants as they creep horizontally more than vertically and grow in one direction, so plan accordingly. In order to trim an Anubia, simply cut off part the rhizome with sharp scissors or a knife, making sure to cut enough rhizome to contain a few leaves if you wish to keep the trimmed portion to grow into another plant.

Anubias nana makes few demands in terms of nutrients or light. In fact, because the leaves grow so slowly and last so long, high light leads to algae growth on the surface of older leaves. Therefore, place the Anubia nana out of direct light, or in an aquarium with moderate light. An Anubia will grow with almost no attention and needs very little fertilization. Even with ample fertilization and CO2, you will not see much of an increase in growth.

Perfect for beginners or those who never thought they could grow plants due to destructive fish or low light, Anubias nana can add contrast to an aquascape with large, lush bright green leaves like the picture above and require very little or no effort to maintain.

 Anubias nana also ideal for small planted tank
Forming lush dense cluster in an aquarium midground
 Creeping Anubias suits well with driftwood
Anubias nana placed in the middle of the aquarium

Herbs: Dill

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Anethum graveolens
ZONE / HARDINESS: Annual - not applicable
MATURE PLANT SIZE: Up to 36 inches high x 24 inches wide
LIGHT: Full Sun - Wind Protected Area
FLOWERING PERIOD: July to September
SOIL TYPE: Fairly rich, well-drained, moist soil
pH RANGE: 6.0


Dill, a popular annual, has bluish-green stems that contrast with finely divided, yellow-green, plume-like leaves and yellowish flowers. Dill grows about 2 to 3 feet high. 

Both the leaves and seeds of dill are popular for flavoring pickles, sauerkraut, and beet dishes. It can be combined with garlic and pepper to produce a highly flavored Mediterranean or East European roast (often cooked over a spit outdoors). The seeds yield a fragrant oil. 

Plant early in the spring after the danger of frost. Seeds are best sown where they will stay, as dill does not transplant well. Plant 1/4 inch deep about 10 inches apart in a prepared bed. A protected location is best to ensure that the tall stalks are not destroyed by the wind. Enjoys full sun, fairly rich, well-drained, moist soil. In tropical climate however, dill usually grows well in area that is slightly shady. Snip the leaves as needed during the summer and harvest the top half of the plant when the seedheads are beige. Dry in bunches or a bag. Store dried foliage and seeds in an air-tight container. Fresh leaves can be refrigerated for 1 week. Dillweed is easiest to handle when frozen on its stem. When needed, snip some off and return the rest to the freezer. 

Dill Flower
Each flower produce a single seed
Seeds on cut-off flower stalk
Collected seeds ready to be use

Direct Seed. Plant 1/4 inch deep about 10 inches apart in a prepared bed. Does not transplant well.

Dill and cabbage plants grow well together. Dill also helps corn, lettuce, onions, and cucumbers. The flowers attract honey bees to the garden. 

In spring, sow seeds in shallow drills about 10 inches apart in a prepared bed where they will stay. Firm the soil down and water well. Repeat the plantings for a continuous supply of fresh dill leaves. The soft, delicate seedlings do not transplant well and are easily blown over by strong winds. The plants do best in a sunny, sheltered area. 

Snip the leaves as needed during the summer and harvest the top half of the plant when the seedheads are beige. Dry in bunches or a bag. Store dried foliage and seeds in an air-tight container. Fresh leaves can be refrigerated for 1 week. Dillweed is easiest to handle when frozen on its stem. When needed, snip some off and return the rest to the freezer.

Dried shredded dill leaves

Very usefull in culinary, decorating, and medicinal. Dill is used in herbal butter and herb vinegars. It can flavor fish, lamb, poultry, cheese, cream, eggs, vegetables, avocados, apples, popcorn, salads, soups, sauces, and spreads. The plant is used to make green dye. The foliage and flowers dry nicely and add an airy touch to plant arrangements. Dill also can be grown in containers with some success.

Cucumber dill dip
Baked salmon with lime dill sauce
Lemon dill potato salad


Dill is mostly a culinary herb today, but it does have some value in medicine, mostly as a stomach soother and anti-gas remedy. It is also said to increase mother's milk and help treat breast congestion from nursing. It is mild, and makes a good remedy for colic in babies.

Dill water is used often for relief of the above symptoms, and can be made by adding 8 drops of Oil to 1 pint of water. Take up to 8 teaspoons per day of this concoction. Dill can also be made into a Tea, and sweetened with honey, or prepared as an infusion by steeping 2 teaspoons of seed in 1 cup of water for 10-15 minutes, then straining. Take 1-2 cups per day.

Medicinal Plant: Oregano

Oregano is among the most popular herb and spice especially in Italian dishes. The name oregano derives from the Greek words oros, for "mountain," and ganos, for "joy" or "splendor" and usually known as Origanum vulgare, its scientific name. Not only oregano is a beautiful plant, but the mountainsides on which it grew were considered much more beautiful because of its presence.
This aromatic herb is a perennial that grows wild in the mountains in areas free of pollution and flourishes in late summer in warm, sunny fields. It not only has a distinctive aroma, but despite its use in cooking, oregano also offer health benefits. Here are some benefits to be derived from this herb:
  1. Although tend to feel a little bitter, oregano is one of the best known resources to meet the health demand for iron and vitamin A. 
  2. Take oregano in dishes on a regular basis can help increase the body's immune system against diseases. 
  3. Compounds thymol and carvacol contained in this herb is beneficial in helping to smooth the process of digestion and treat stomach disturbance.  
  4. During menstruation, chew some fresh oregano leaves can help relieve pain and tension in the stomach and hips. 
  5. Oil content in fresh oregano leaves have antibacterial and antiviral properties. In fact, mash leaves are also very useful for treating skin diseases as it acts as a powerful antiseptic. 
  6. Oregano also has properties that can soothe and help the body during sleep.
"Oregano is one of the world's finest natural medicines, its power lying in the oil found in its leaves."

Oregano as a medicine:
  1. Try a tea made with oregano for loss of appetite, nervousness, indigestion, bloating, flatulence, coughs, urinary problems, bronchial problems, headaches, swollen glands, and to promote menstruation. It has also been used in the past to relieve fevers, diarrhea, vomiting, and jaundice.
  2. Unsweetened oregano tea can be used as a gargle or mouthwash.  
  3. Alternatively, the leaves can be dried, pulverized, and made into capsule form when it's inconvenient to make a tea.
  4. Oil of oregano helps in the reduction of tooth pain. In fact, when poured into the cavity of the tooth, it acts as an analgesic.
  5. Oil of oregano is also a powerful fungicide and can be used to treat fungus and yeast infections, especially systemic, chronic, or recurrent fungus infection and yeast infection caused by Candida albicans intestinal yeast overgrowth (Candidiasis).
  6. Oregano can also help alleviate intestinal disorders commonly associated with Candidiasis including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), leaky gut syndrome, and a number of intestinal parasite and bacterial infections.
  7. Historically, oil of oregano superseded anti-inflammatory drugs in reversing pain and inflammation and is nearly as powerful as morphine as a painkiller. Externally, oregano leaves can be pounded into a paste. Add small amounts of hot water or tea to reach the desired consistency (oatmeal may also be added to thicken it if needed). This paste can then be used to relieve pain from rheumatism, swelling, itching, aching muscles, and sores.
  8. Oil of oregano can also provide immediate help for bee stings and venomous bites until medical attention can be reached.
  9. For tired joints and muscles, put a handful of oregano leaves in a coffee filter, mesh bag, or cheesecloth bag and run steaming bath water over it. Allow it to steep in the tub with you as you relax in the warm, fragrant water.
  10. Oil of oregano also has even been suggested as a treatment for dandruff, diaper rash, and other skin disorders. 
Oregano Shoot Close-up 
Fresh Oregano  
Dried Oregano 
Oregano Powder
Oregano has been said to be helpful in cases of:
  • Digestion, parasites, despression, flu, constipation, rashes, brain fog, lung fungus, toe and fingernail fungus, head lice, aching joints and muscles, warts, athlete's foot
  • Eczema, flu, headaches, toothaches, ear infection, fevers, allergies, burns, bleeding, fatigue, arthrities, sprains, back pain, colds
  • Lyme disease, canker sores, gastrointestinal / colitis / diarrhea, E. coli - and try it for whatever else bothers you. All of oregano's attributes have yet to be fully explored.
  • When sprayed, oregano cleans the air, kill fleas, and kills bugs on plants.
"Oregano is usually thought of as a culinary herb, yet its medicinal properties have been understood and used for thousands of years. But beware: The related herbs thyme and marjoram sold in most North American supermarkets are often mislabeled as oregano and it do not possess oregano's miraculous healing properties."