Lily of the Incas – The Meaning Behind This Unique Flower

Alstroemeria is a fantastic flower that is also called the Peruvian lily. It combines the charm of lilies and orchids. It makes the flower unique and attracts everyones attention. In most cases, this flower means devotion. So it is often included in romantic and wedding bouquets. And also, flowers can be friendly gift compositions that indicate respect and value for a person.

A bunch of Peruvian lilies will bring luck to someone who starts a new business and help them get past any problems that are getting in the way of their success. In general, you can present these flowers to anyone whom you respect. It can be both a colleague and the people closest to you. The main thing is to give the alstroemeria meaning correctly.

Alstroemeria is not the only name of the plant. It is also known as the “Peruvian lily,” “Inca lily,” and “parrot lily. ” In the language of flowers, its name means cute or charming and expresses a compliment.

Most people ask, “What is alstroemeria?” when they hear its name. But if you say it looks like a small lily, it’s easier to understand what kind of flower it is:

The flower received its first official name after its recognition in Europe. Its name comes from the complex surname of a Swedish botanist. He was the first who showed interest in this flora representative.

Alstroemerias bright palette of colors makes it possible to create stunning flower compositions. And they quickly propagate by the division of seeds and are easy to care for. They are of great importance to people who understand alstroemeria symbolism.

The Lily of the Incas, also known as the Peruvian lily or alstroemeria, is an exotic and eye-catching flower that has become increasingly popular in recent years. With its delicate, orchid-like blooms and long vase life, it’s easy to see why this flower is in demand. But beyond its visual appeal, the alstroemeria has a fascinating symbolic meaning and storied history.

In this article, we’ll uncover the origins, significance, and lore surrounding the Lily of the Incas. Read on to learn more about what this striking flower represents.

What is the Lily of the Incas?

The Lily of the Incas refers specifically to the alstroemeria aurea species native to Peru and Chile. It’s a herbaceous perennial plant that grows from tubers or rhizomes. The flowers emerge on upright stems reaching 1-4 feet tall depending on variety.

Multiple blooms open in succession on each stem, prolonging the display. The alstroemeria produces flowers in a wide spectrum of colors like pink, purple, yellow, orange, red, and white. The blossoms feature petals streaked, freckled or edged with contrasting hues for a painted effect.

There are over 200 hybrids and cultivars of alstroemeria bred for the cut flower industry. Some popular ones include ‘Sweet Laura,’ ‘Princess,’ ‘Inticancha,’ and ‘Yellow King.’

History and Origins

The Lily of the Incas holds major cultural significance in its native South America. But it wasn’t introduced to Europe until the late 18th century. Here’s a look at the flower’s fascinating backstory:

  • Andean natives – Indigenous Quechua and Aymara people viewed the alstroemeria as a symbolic mystical flower associated with prosperity and good fortune.

  • Incan royalty – According to legend, Incan rulers reserved alstroemerias for adorning royal gardens due to their association with wealth.

  • “Discovery” by Europeans – Swedish botanist Claus von Alstroemer “discovered” the flower in 1753 while traveling in Spain, though natives had cultivated it for centuries.

  • Spread beyond South America – Alstroemer brought seeds back to Sweden, and the flower was named alstroemeria in his honor. It became popular across Europe as an exotic import.

  • Modern breeding – Breeders have crossed wild species to create showier, more colorful hybrids. The alstroemeria is now a top cut flower crop.

So while native Andean people had long treasured this flower, it took centuries for Europeans to unearth it. Today it remains an iconic flower of South American heritage.

Meaning and Symbolism

So what does this UNIQUE flower symbolize? Here are the common symbolic meanings behind the Lily of the Incas:

  • Friendship – The alstroemeria’s leaves twist and turn as it grows, representing the ups and downs of friendships. The striped petals mirror how friends weave in and out of each other’s lives.

  • Devotion – The flower’s association with friendship evolved into representing loyalty and devotion. It became a romantic symbol of commitment between lovers.

  • Good fortune – True to its Incan roots, the alstroemeria signifies prosperity, success, and abundance. It’s considered a lucky charm.

  • Wealth – For ancient Andeans and Incan rulers, the flower represented material riches and status.

  • Grace – The alstroemeria’s delicate, gently speckled blossoms convey an aura of grace, elegance and femininity.

  • Aspiration – The upward-reaching stems can represent growth, achievement of goals, and fulfillment of dreams.

There are slight variations in meaning across the different bloom colors, but overall, this flower embodies close bonds, affection, prosperity, and grace.

Lily of the Incas Meaning in Bouquets and Arrangements

So how is the poignant symbolism of this bloom translated in floral gifts? Here are some common ways the Lily of the Incas lends meaning to flower arrangements:

  • Friendship bouquets – Mixed flower arrangements with alstroemerias as fillers convey closeness and devotion between friends.

  • Romantic gifts – Red or pink alstroemerias in love-themed bouquets speak to commitment and passion in relationships.

  • Weddings – The flower’s luck and devotion meanings make it ideal for bridal bouquets, boutonnieres, and ceremony decor.

  • New home or business – Alstroemerias in a vase or bouquet make a fitting gift to wish prosperity and success for a new endeavour.

  • Get well soon – The uplifting, optimistic flower can brighten someone’s spirits and wish them better fortune in recovering.

  • Sympathy – While associated with upbeat themes, alstroemerias can also express your graceful devotion as you stand by grieving loved ones.

There are infinite ways to incorporate this meaningful flower into gifts and arrangements for loved ones.

Interesting Facts About the Lily of the Incas

Beyond the significance of the alstroemeria, there are some fascinating facts about this plant:

  • Alstroemerias are named after the Swedish botanist Claus von Alstroemer who introduced them to Europe.

  • The plants thrive in cool, mountainous climates and moist, well-drained soil.

  • They grow from rhizomes, not bulbs, which allows them to spread easily and populate an area over time.

  • The ink used to produce the streaked pattern on the petals is called splotching. It’s a natural process unique to alstroemerias.

  • The flowers last an exceptionally long time, up to 2-3 weeks if cared for properly.

  • Overzealous breeding has made most commercial strains lose their sweet, light fragrance. Heirloom types retain more aroma.

  • All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested, due to triterpenoid saponins that protect it from pests.

How to Grow Lily of the Incas

Want to try cultivating these stunning blooms yourself? Here are some tips:

  • Plant in early spring in zones 7-10, fall in cooler zones. Soak rhizomes before planting.

  • Choose a site with full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil enriched with compost.

  • Space plants 12-18 inches apart. Plant rhizomes vertically with the crown 2 inches below soil.

  • Water when dry an inch below surface. Fertilize in spring and summer. Cut back stems after flowering.

  • Divide crowded clumps in spring every 2-3 years. Lift, separate rhizomes, and replant 12 inches apart.

  • Watch for aphids, thrips, and powdery mildew. Control with neem oil, insecticidal soap or sulfur.

With the right care, you can enjoy these roses of the Andes from your own garden!

How to Arrange Lily of the Incas

Looking to include alstroemerias in a flower arrangement? Here are some tips:

  • Pick freshly opened flowers that haven’t been open more than 2-3 days.

  • Recut stems and place in warm water with floral preservative to maximize vase life.

  • Alstroemerias look beautiful with roses, lilies, irises, tulips, and other spring blooms.

  • Their sprays of multiple blooms work nicely as filler flowers among focal flowers.

  • Mix colors for contrast. Go for an ombre effect alternating light and dark shades.

  • Display in a clear glass vase to showcase the painted petals. A bud vase keeps individual stems fresh.

Gift Giving Tips

When giving the Lily of the Incas as a gift, keep these etiquette tips in mind:

  • Add a card explaining the meaning behind your floral gift. Share why you chose this particular flower.

  • For special occasions, opt for the deeper red or orange shades over pastel tones.

  • For a romantic partner, combine with other flowers of love like roses. For platonic friends, mix with daisies, lilies, irises.

  • If giving as aCondolences gift or Get Well gift, include other uplifting flowers like carnations, sunflowers, or gerberas.

  • For new homeowners, a potted alstroemeria plant makes a great housewarming gift to represent prosperity.

The Takeaway

With its rich history, diverse symbolism, and stunning speckled petals, it’s easy to see why the Lily of the Incas remains a treasured flower. This guide covers the origins, meanings, uses, and lore surrounding the alstroemeria. Beyond its visual beauty, this exotic bloom conveys friendship, devotion, fortune, and grace. Next time you shop for flowers, consider this special heirloom flower of the Andes. Let the Lily of the Incas add its magical meaning and unique flair to your floral gifts and arrangements.

Most Common Alstroemeria Colors

lily of the incas meaning

Alstroemerias flowers grow in various shades. They can be red, pink, orange, white, and others. And they all have their meaning. Their combination with other colors makes them even more expressive and adds luxury. It is because alstroemerias colors can be both vibrant and pastel. The most common alstroemeria colors are: .

  • Yellow: symbolizes optimism, cheerfulness, and activity. There are times when it’s appropriate to bring happiness and good feelings to someone.
  • Red: symbolizes solid and intense feelings. Red alstroemeria flowers are often a sign of secret love and passion.
  • Orange: means goals and aspirations in life. This color of alstroemeria can be given to people you want to wish luck and happiness to.
  • Purple: means admiration and fascination with a person. If you want to tell someone how beautiful they are, these flowers will work.
  • White: shows spirituality and closeness to a person. Giving someone this gift is a great way to show your love.
  • Pink: symbolizes tender feelings, pleasure, and light passion. If you want to send a bouquet that has a romantic meaning behind it, pink alstroemeria is a good choice.

Meaning and Symbolism of the Alstroemeria Flower

lily of the incas meaning

Before choosing a type of flower, people always need to interpret its meaning. After all, its ignorance can lead to misunderstandings between people. Therefore, if you choose a composition of these flowers, learn what alstroemeria is. Knowledge of its meaning will help you give a certain sense to the bouquet. So, remember the following definitions of this flower:

Receiving a bouquet of alstroemeria gives the meaning of great loyalty and dedication. Alstroemerias will help you express your sincere feelings to those people without whom you cant imagine your life. They can convey this meaning.

Quite often, alstroemerias flowers have the meaning of good luck. You can give such flowers if you want to express confidence in someones endeavors. Or, if you want to wish a person good luck and faith in their strength. Also alstroemeria flower gives meaning to achieving success without obstacles.

You can show someone you care about and respect by giving them a bouquet of alstroemeria. Send these flowers to a friend or family member who has been promoted at work or is moving on to a new phase in their life.

If you need to express your support for someone, then alstroemeria flowers are ideal. Their beautiful colors give a feeling of care and emotional support. So, people often give them to those who experience difficulties in life or significant worries.

Alstroemeria is an ideal gift for a friend. It indicates strong friendships and attachment to a person. Mostly, this lovely flower sends a friendly message to everyone you give it to. But if you want to send a romantic or friendly message, you need to pick the right color of alstroemeria. Each of them has its interpretation.

ALSTROEMERIA FLOWER (PERUVIAN LILY) | Meaning and Color Symbolism | Growing fast in Atok

Where do lilies come from?

They are native to South America, particularly Peru and Brazil, and are often referred to as Peruvian lilies or lily of the Incas. These flowers have become increasingly popular in the floral industry due to their stunning beauty and symbolic meaning.

How tall do Peruvian lilies grow?

‘Indian Summer’: coppery orange flowers and grows up to 30 inches tall. ‘Princess Eliane’: bright pink flowers with yellow and burgundy throats. It is a small variety, 9 to 12 inches tall. Cut Peruvian lilies back after blooming to prevent the plants from directing energy into seed production.

When do Peruvian lilies stop blooming?

If given adequate water, light, and fertilizer, Peruvian lilies will usually bloom well. It is fairly common for Peruvian lilies to stop blooming robustly after five or six years. When this happens, it’s best to lift and divide the root clumps and replant them to create new plants.

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