The cloying tropical fragrance of tuberoses is pervasive on warm summer evenings -- reason enough to grow them but with an added benefit of beautiful white flowers. Reputedly, it was cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Columbian times, then sequestered in a monastery in France until it was released for wider cultivation. Sharing the secret has been a boon to centuries of gardeners ever since.
Description of tuberose: Tuberoses grow from bulbous rootstocks with a rosette of leaves, centered by a flowering stem that is surrounded by tubular flowers of exquisite fragrance. Flowering stems are from 1 to 2 feet tall. Both single and double varieties are planted. Not hardy, bulbs must be dug up each fall in cold climates and replanted in the spring.
Growing tuberose: Grow tuberoses in rich, well-drained soil that is high in organic matter and in full sun. Plant in the garden after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Plant the bulbs 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Water them thoroughly during dry weather.
Propagating tuberose: Start new plants from offsets. Smaller bulbs will have formed when you dig the bulbs in the fall. They may be replanted the next year and will bloom the second year. For earlier plants, start them indoors 5 to 6 weeks prior to planting in the garden.
Uses for tuberose: The pure white flowers on long stems combine well with any garden plants. To enjoy their fragrance, plant groups of them where people pass or congregate. Plant them in containers for the lovely flower form and haunting scent. They're good as cut flowers.
Tuberose related varieties: Mexican Everblooming is the widely available, single-flowered tuberose. The Pearl is the widely planted double form, with each blossom packed with many extra flowers.
Scientific name of tuberose: Polianthes tuberosaWant more information? Try these links:
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