Polianthes tuberosa [pol-ee-AN-theez, too-ber-OH-suh] is a perennial plant, and often grown as an ornamental.
It features thin, tubular flowers with six flaring segments and produces a strong, pleasant fragrance.
Many perfumes feature extracts of the plant for its aroma.
Polianthes tuberosa now goes by Agave amica [a-GAH-vee, AM-ee-ka]. It belongs to the Asparagaceae family and the Agave genus (Agavaceae).
The common name is tuberose.
It comes from the Latin word for swollen, referring to the root system of the plant.
This perennial comes from central and southern Mexico, but no longer grows in the wild in its native region.
Luckily, it grows well in a variety of other climates.
Polianthes Tuberosa Care
Size and Growth
The tuberose flower is a bulb plant (rhizomes).
It produces long, slender succulent leaves appearing from tall, rigid stems.
The leaves and stems are often a bright green color.
With the tall stems, the tuberose may reach up to 3’ feet tall.
Ensure it has plenty of room to grow.
Due to the height of the slender stems, tuberose may need protection against strong winds and rain.
Use a stake to secure the stem or plant it an area shielding it from severe weather.
The most popular variety is a double-flowered cultivar known as ‘The Pearl’ growing to 2.5′ feet tall and features pale pink flower color, tuberose bulbs opening to cream.
Flowering and Fragrance
This plant has a late bloom time. The flowers of these summer blooming bulbs typically appear between July and October.
The waxy fragrant flowers grow in clusters from the ends of the stem and create a sweet, pleasant smell.
Due to the rigid stem, they make perfect cut flowers.
The thicker stem helps the flowers last longer, allowing the aroma to carry for several weeks before the cutting withers.
Light and Temperature
Grow the plant outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10, but avoid keeping it outside during the threat of frost.
In cold zones, the bulbs need storage for winter.
Tuberose needs lots of sunlight.
Keep it in a spot with full sun, but without the intense afternoon light.
If grown indoors, the UV rays from a south-facing window may scorch the plant.
Keep it near a bright window, but away from the afternoon sun.
The plant also needs fresh air when grown indoors.
Occasionally open the window and allow the plant to enjoy the breeze.
When keeping the plant indoors for the winter, the ideal temperature range is between 64° – 68° degrees Fahrenheit (18° – 20° C).
This should encourage flowering toward the end of the following early summer to early fall.
Watering and Feeding
The tuberose sucks up moisture and requires plenty of water.
Keep it hydrated with frequent watering.
As the plant grows, it will likely need even more water.
Monitor the plant regularly.
Use half-strength diluted liquid fertilizer when watering every two weeks.
Soil and Transplanting
Use rich sandy soil with good drainage. Regular potting soil should work.
If the soil appears too dense, add perlite, compost, or peat moss to aerate the medium.
Plant in six-inch to eight-inch pots to give the roots plenty of space to grow.
This also eliminates the need for transplanting, as the smaller container should provide the right amount of space for mature plants.
If grown outdoors in a cold region, dig up the spent bulbs and store them for the winter.
Keep the bulbs in a dry, cool environment and replant in the early spring for late summer flowers.
Tuberose doesn’t require grooming, but the bulbs may need pulling if grown outdoors in climates with freezing winter temperatures.
How to Propagate Polianthes Tuberosa
Use tubers to propagate. Tuberose reproduces naturally when grown outdoors in the garden, growing small tubers near the main plant.
- Carefully remove the smaller tubers using a sharp knife.
- Plant tubers removed in the spring immediately.
- Otherwise, store the tubers over winter and plant the following late spring.
Indoor tuberose and container plants rarely grow healthy tubers capable of producing flowers.
If the temperatures get too cold for outdoor planting, purchase bulbs in the spring.
Polianthes Tuberosa Main Pests or Disease Problems
The biggest threats to Polianthes tuberosa include scorching, fungus, and mealy bugs.
To protect against scorching, keep the plant out of direct sunlight or south-facing windows.
The bright UV rays leave burnt spots on the leaves.
Move the plant to a shadier spot, and the leaves may recover.
If the green leaves develop dry patches, it may start to develop fungus.
To stop this threat, move the plant to a drier spot and cut away the affected leaves.
Mealybugs appear as small white dots. In some cases, an insecticide (Neem oil) may treat an infestation.
If the pests remain, remove them with the edge of a sharp blade and then wash the leaves with warm water.
More on –> How to Get Rid of Mealy Bugs
Suggested Tuberose Uses
Grow tuberose outdoors with other plants or by itself in a container near a window.
Place it somewhere where guests can enjoy the sight and aroma of the flowers.
What is the proper way to store tuberoses over the winter? R.H., Ohio.
In the fall, about frost time, lift tuberose bulbs leaving soil on them and store in a warm, dry place.
When thoroughly dry, clean the tubers and store in dry peat moss, vermiculite, pcrlite, or sand at a temperature of about 60° degrees Fahrenheit.
In late spring they are ready to be removed and replanted. The small tubers, or offsets, removed from the clumps will not flower the first year.