“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” --John Bunyan
It was just lying there in the garbage can. Unwanted, lonely, forgotten. I picked up the small princess lily (alstroemeria) cutting and twirled it between my thumb and forefinger. I understood. A couple of “plugs” in each tray are just too small or have too few roots to be worth planting when all the others are so much bigger. Still, I felt a knot forming in the pit of my stomach. I think you have to have a certain degree of craziness to be in this business because it clearly said to me, “Please don’t let me go out like this.” “Never,” was my quick reply. If you’re familiar with Dr. Suess’s Horton the Elephant in the jungle of Nool when he heard that small voice on the speck of dust floating past him that strange day, then you can understand what went through my mind. I decided that a plant is a plant no matter how small and that I should be the one to protect it. I went to my office and found a three-inch terracotta pot, filled it with soil, planted the slip, and watered it in. I put it in my office window and waited to see what would happen. In a few weeks, little Katiana had doubled in size and was sending up a second shoot. In another couple of weeks, it was clearly in need of a bigger pot so I bumped it up to a six-inch container. Over the summer, she flourished in my window, bringing inspiration to me and joy to all who passed by. In August, I was delighted with the cluster of red flowers that adorned the green and white foliage.
Winter was quiet in the southern window. Some say that alstroemeria makes a great house plant. I’m not convinced. Katiana spent most of the winter suspended between almost dormancy and sporadic growth. Every time a new shoot came up, another one would yellow and fall over. Also, there were no more blooms. Once I came back to work from winter vacation, I was conflicted about what to do. It felt as if I were holding her back, so when the new shipment of princess lilies came in, I made the difficult decision to part company and give her a chance at a better life. She now resides in the Westbrook greenhouse in a 14” teal container under the care of our expert growers. I will continue to check in every so often to see the progress and to update you if it is appropriate. I look forward to the day someone adopts her and takes her to a new summer home where she can thrive and bring happiness to many more people.
As often as I pass the container, I hear the gentle whisper, “Thank you, you did what you could.” It’s all the affirmation I need. If you are the one blessed to take this plant on her next journey, please treasure her and send me updates when you can.
Have a fabulous day!
Katiana, part of the Colorita series, has variegated leaves and red flowers. They grow 8-12” high and 24” across (larger, depending on conditions). Princess lilies are very easy to grow and have few diseases or pests. They are excellent stand-alone plants or make colorful fillers in larger containers.