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Get More Fragrance in Your Life With the Tuberose Flower

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Get More Fragrance in Your Life With the Tuberose Flower

Some Compare the Fragrance of the Tuberose to Gardenias

Photo © flickr user Swami Stream
You can duplicate the look of tuberose flowers in your garden with many other small, white flowers, but no other bloom has quite the same intoxicating perfume. Some describe the fragrance of this South American flower as exotic, spicy, floral, and sweet, and the price for one ounce of the essential oil can start at $600 or higher. However, you can enjoy the fresh fragrance of this popular wedding flower for a few dollars, and a little bit of sweat equity, by growing the tuberose in your garden.

Latin Name:

Genus Polianthes Tuberosa, Family Agavaceae

Common Names:

Tuberose

Zone:

Hardy in zones 8-10, otherwise grow as an annual.

Size:

24-36 inches

Exposure:

Full Sun

Bloom Period:

Mid to late summer

Description:

Tuberose foliage has grassy foliage, similar in appearance to daylilies. Each stem can bear a dozen or more white blooms, which may remain closed if the heat is particularly stifling.

True to its agave heritage, the flowers are slightly waxy, offering protection against desiccation, but the blooms can still shrivel in direct sun when temperatures are 95 degrees F or greater. If this sounds typical of your summers, plant the bulbs where they will receive some afternoon shade.

Planting:

In northern climates, tuberoses may not bloom until the latter part of August, but you can start the bulbs indoors in early spring to give them a head start. However, the bulbs are easy to start outdoors, if you’re patient enough to wait three to four months for the first blooms:
  1. Plant them in soil with good drainage in a sunny location.
  2. Space the bulbs six inches apart, and cover them with two inches of soil.
  3. Make sure the bulbs get a weekly drink, either through rain or irrigation.

Maintenance:

Although tuberoses need full sun to reach their blossoming potential, they don’t like to bake in parched soil. Keep your tuberoses moist with the help of a 3-inch mulch layer.

Tuberoses are moderate to heavy feeders. Apply a slow release granular fertilizer at the beginning of the season. A 5-10-5 fertilizer will provide the necessary phosphorus to encourage flowering.

At the end of the growing season in zones 6 and colder you’ll have to decide if you want to save your tuberose bulbs for next year. If so, dig them up, let them dry, and store them in a cool place.

Design Tips:

Plant tuberose bulbs close to your mailbox or front door, where you’ll enjoy their perfume frequently. Add several tuberoses to your container garden for fragrance.

Varieties:

  • Single Mexican: Easiest to grow and earliest to bloom.
  • Double Pearl: Every bit as fragrant as the single variety. Plants are shorter, flowers have blush tips, and blooms are fully double.
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