Alstroemeria are called Peruvian Lily or Lily of the Incas.
The genus was named by Linnaeus after a Swedish baron (Claus von Alstroemer), who collected seeds on a trip to South America in 1753. There are from 30 to 50 different species, all native from South American. Most come from two areas, which represent two different growth patterns: central Chile, producing winter flowering plants, and eastern Brazil that produces summer-blooming plants. Other species are scattered around different regions. All are long-lived perennials except one species: A. graminea, a small species with an annual life span native to the deserts of Chile. Most species of Alstroemeria have showy flowers with six tepals (petals and sepals that look similar). In a few species, two tepals are enlarged and distinctly colored or marked, these act as "flags" that attract pollinators. Plants have rootstocks that consist of a slender rhizome or groups of rhizomes, and connected to these are sausage-like storage roots that hold water. The stems may be stout in alpine Andean species and only a few cm tall, or they can be 1.5 m tall in other species. Each year, plants produce many new shoots with umbels of flowers. The umbels end the stems and each has up to 10 flowers. The stems produce leaves that twist as they grow out, so that the bottom surface ends-up as the top, this is a condition called resupinate.
There are many hybrids grown in cultivation and some in the wild. There are over 200 named cultivars. These differ in the flower color, flower markings and plant sizes. The plants come in a very wide range of colors. Many of the most commonly grown plants are the result of crosses between the winter-growing and summer-growing species; producing semi to evergreen plants that flower year round. The flowers are very popular as cutting material for bouquets and flower arrangements and have a vase life of about two weeks
The seeds are good sized and generally easy to handle. When stored the seeds become very hard and soaking them in warm water for 3 days will spead up germination, the water should be changed once or twice a day with fresh warm water. When sowing the seeds should be covered with a 1/4 inch of soil medium and keep at 65-70F for three weeks and then moved to 33-40F for 6 weeks, then moved 55-65F for Germination in 2-30 weeks. The period of germination can be spread out over a long time so removing the seedlings when large enough to handle and planting into a pot works best to protect newer germinated seeds from being choked-out by larger seedlings.