Looking for a new flower for your organic garden?

Mauve Majesty is one cool lily look-alike. The  pinkish-purple ornamental flower, just patented by Cornell University, can last two weeks in a vase, but when left in the garden, it blooms all summer long in the cooler, northern states until fall’s first hard freeze.

This new hybrid of the Inca lily (Alstroemeria), developed by Cornell horticulture professor Mark Bridgen, is a nonfragrant perennial that’s set apart by its lavender-lilac  color (which is adorned with dark speckling and a creamy yellow throat); its strong, upright flower stems; and its winter hardiness. In greenhouses, the new hybrid never goes dormant and grows year-round.

“Alstroemeria flowers, native to South America, are the fifth most popular cut flower in the United States,” says Bridgen, who was recently awarded the 2008 Herbert Medal from the International Bulb Society for meritorious achievement in advancing knowledge of bulbous plants. “The flowers can often be found in hotel lobbies and fancy restaurants because they don’t wilt for up to two weeks.”

The hybrid, which botanically is not a lily, took five years to develop, says Bridgen. It is now widely available through nurseries and mail-order catalogs.

Photo courtesy of Cornell University