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Tuberose Basics

The tuberose is a hot spot plant for late summer fragrance

Perhaps the tuberose is best enjoyed for its fragrance - and it doesn't take many to have the perfect wafting aromatics, either. With their tall, stalking stems, tuberoses are the perfect specimen to interplant with other favorites.

Interestingly enough, tuberoses are not wild plants, but are cultivars from the garden. They're often cultivated for the perfume industry and you may see them in bunches placed in large rooms where a breeze carries their scent. They are also used in leis, particularly the "double pearl." The Mexican single (Polianthes tuberosa) is the most common variety.

They'll survive winters in the ground in Zones 8-10, but will need to be stored in Zones 7 and below. Let them dry in indirect light for a few days, then store in a box filled with peat. Check regularly - they should be kept dry. If the rhizomes begin to shrivel, however, some misting is in order.

They are fertilizer hogs. The ground should be prepared with a 10-10-10 fertilizer and after planting should be fed monthly during the growing season. Choose a sunny location (they prefer all-day sun) with well-draining soil and don't put them out until after the last frost. They also love water, but not puddling.

Tuberoses may terrific container plants, but typically do not thrive indoors as there is never enough light. The plants can do well for many years, but eventually will need to be divided. The pot, of course, may be susceptible to above ground freezing. When the foliage turns yellow, cut back and cover with organic material. Allow the soil to dry and then store in a cool, protected spot. It's better, however, to remove the roots from the soil and store in peat.

If not treated properly, tuberoses may not bloom in the season they're planted. They are slow growers and may take up to eight months before the stalks begin to produce the beautiful flowers.

Once the fragrance begins to surround your garden area, however, you'll be ready to add more tuberoses to your perennial collection.




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