January 9, 2008

Long-lasting Lily Look-alike

The Mauve Majesty may look like a lily, but it can last a lot longer. This flower, which took five years for Cornell to develop, can bloom through the summer and until the first hard freeze in most northern states. If it is grown in a greenhouse, it never goes dormant, and once cut, the stems last two weeks before wilting. Botanically, it is not a lily, but perceptions can be deceiving.

This lavender-lilac colored flower with its creamy yellow throat and dark speckling is a new hybrid of the Inca lily (Alstroemeria). The Alstroemeria is the fifth most popular cut flower in the United States, according to Mark Bridgen, the Cornell professor of horticulture and director of the Department of Horticulture's Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center. Bridgen developed the Mauve Majesty, which is Cornells' first patented ornamental plant, and he recently received the 2008 Herbert Medal from the International Bulb Society for achievement in advancing knowledge of bulbous plants.

Cornell's hybrid is also one of the first in its color class to be hardy to cooler northern climates. The Mauve Majesty grows well in zone 6 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map, on the coasts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Northern New Jersey and some of the Midwest. It is also capable of sometimes growing in western Massachusetts, Michigan, southern Iowa and Nebraska, eastern Colorado, and northern Missouri and Kansas, which are included in zone 5. Its hardiness in zone 5 depends on the temperature range in a particular year.


Image caption: Mauve Majesty is a new pinkish-purple ornamental flower, just patented by Cornell, that blooms all summer long in the cooler, northern states until the first hard freeze in the fall.


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