The lovely old fashioned Tuberose, botanically know as Polianthes, has been grown extensively since the 1600's. If fragrance is your passion this relative of the amaryllis is essential. In fact, it's essential oil is the basis of many popular perfumes.
This perennial with a bulb-like tuber produces crowns of long, grassy leaves with a stout 30-100cm flower spike arising from the centre.
The waxy, white flowers open up the stem over a long period. Their lovely, almost over-powering perfume resembles that of gardenia.
The blooms are highly prised for floristry and as cut flowers. There are several secrets to growing good tuberose. These Mexican natives demand excellent drainage, full sun and warmth, especially warm soil.
They grow well in raised beds of rich, fluffy compost piled over broken brick, concrete or stone. Or plant near a hot, sheltered wall, driveway, sidewalk or other paved area that traps ground heat.
Commercial growers often grow them between rows of black plastic or weedmat. They thrive in the warm glasshouse and can be grown in large containers. Each tuber blooms only once then produces many side shoots which bloom in two years.
Undivided clumps will soon choke themselves. Dig the tubers in autumn or winter and remove the side shoots. Stored in sand over winter.
Tubers are planted in spring for summer flowers and summer for autumn and winter blooms. In frost-free districts tuberose can be grown outdoors all year. Elsewhere enjoy them as a fragrant blessing of the warm, summer garden.
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