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How to Care for a Tuberose Plant

A collage of tuberose plants.

Agave Amica

Formerly known under the name of polianthes tuberosa, agave amica is a perennial plant that is part of asparagaceae family. A botanical name may not mean all that much to you, but you may be interested in the fact that this flowering plant species is known for being one of the most fragrant on the planet.

More commonly known as the tuberose plant, p tuberosa plants have been in cultivation by humanity since the Aztecs. What first started out as a plant being solely grown for its fragrance, they’re becoming a very popular ornamental plant as well.

Incredible white flowers of the tuberose plant in bloom

Here’s a fun historical fact for you: Louis XIV was known for being terrified of bathing, and to help with his terrible stench, he would have bowls of fresh tuberose flowers, lilac flowers, and jasmine flowers all over his dwellings.

Nowadays people grow tuberose plants not only for their glorious fragrance, but because they are extremely easy to care for, they produce beautiful white flower blossoms that last for a long time in the summer. Read on to learn all there is to know regarding tuberose cultivation!

What do Tuberose Plants Look Like?

Amazing white flowers of the tuberose plant in summer bloom

Growth Habit

Starting underneath the earth, tuberose plants grow from sturdy rhizomes. Rhizomes (also known as a tuber) are basically an underground storage facility that contain all of the necessary nutrients and moisture to help keep a plant happy during long winters or harsh climates.

These rhizomes produce offsets, meaning that this type of plant is able to produce new plants by spreading underground, as well as spreading seed above the surface as well.

From a rhizome will grow a basal rosette of leaves, and a flower spike/flower stalk that can reach up to 4 feet in height. This impressive height is a large part of why they are such wonderful plants for the garden.

Leaves

Tuberose leaves will usually grow as a basal rosette at the base of the flowering stem. The leaves are a dull green color and are known as being slightly succulent in nature.

A succulent leaf is going to be far more fleshy and three dimensional than say a deciduous leaf. This is because the leaves will retain a lot of moisture within the leaf to help keep the plant sated.

Amazing light pink tuberose flowers in bloom

Flowers

The inflorescence of a tuberose plant is borne as a very tall flower spike that contains many smaller flowers. Flower buds will usually bloom in the early summer and can sometimes last well into late summer and fall. Their blooming period also depends on when they are planted.

Each individual tuberose flower is tubular in shape (hence its common name) that separates into 6 flaring segments from which protrude several stamens. A tuberose flower is most commonly white in color.

As mentioned before, tuberose flowers are famous for being extremely and pleasantly fragrant. This fragrant flower is said to smell like a mixture of vanilla, gardenias, orange blossoms, and some even say popcorn!

The delicious scent of these white flowers is not only appealing to human noses, but to pollinator species as well. Planting tuberose can effectively turn your regular garden into a butterfly and hummingbird garden in no time.

One of the most popular tuberose cultivars is the pink sapphire. The pink sapphire produces long stems of double flower blossoms that are an incredible pink color, which are accompanied by fleshy leaves with smooth edges. Pink sapphires make for an impeccable cut flower specimen for a fresh flower arrangement.

Where is Tuberose a Native Plant?

Field of gorgeous and tall blooming tuberose flowers

Something that every gardener should know before attempting to plant a new specimen is learning where it is considered as being a native plant. This way you will know the exact conditions you’ll have to attempt to mimic.

Tuberose plants are native to central and southern Mexico, though they can no longer be found growing in the wild. Some say this is a result of them being domesticated very early on by the Aztecs.

However, tuberose plants are grown as cultivated plants all over the planet in all sorts of tropical and temperate regions throughout North America and elsewhere. They can grow happily outdoors in USDA growing zones 8 through 10, but should be brought indoors for the colder months.

What are the Ideal Growing Conditions for Tuberose Plants?

The natural next step is to learn exactly what it takes to keep a tuberose plant happy. If you live in a very warm climate, it will require almost no care at all, but if you happen to live in a colder climate, there are a few extra things you’ll need to do. Here’s a cheeky little planting guide:

Early blooming white flowers of the tuberose plant in the garden

Soil Type

Tuberose plants are not picky in many ways. One of those ways is the type of soil that they are planted in. They are adaptable to all types of different soil types as long as they are well draining.

Tuberose plants also seem to perform their absolute best when they are able to grow in very fertile soil. An easy way to accomplish both of these things is by incorporating some compost to the soil mix at the beginning of the growing season.

Compost will not only increase the overall nutrient content of the soil, but it will also improve its drainage. Incorporating sand can also help with drainage.

Water Level

Tuberose plants only have moderate watering requirements. Rhizomatous plants are usually quite drought tolerant which is very much the case with tuberose plants.

Though they are tolerant to drought, it is not preferred. They perform their absolute best if they can receive regular water throughout their growing season — usually about 1 inch a week is perfect. This can occur either through precipitation or supplemental watering.

Sun Exposure

Tuberose plants are sun loving creatures. This means that they will be their absolute happiest if they receive a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every single day.

That being said, if a tuberose plant is growing in an area that experiences extremely hot summer temperatures, they’ll be grateful for a bit of partial shade in the heat of the afternoon sun.

Young tuberose plant blooming in the summer sun

Temperature

The one thing you should remember about tuberose plants is their intolerance to extreme temperatures. They do not appreciate intense bouts of cold, and will perform their best if they are able to experience an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit regularly.

Tuberose flowers actually require about 4 months of warm temperatures before they are able to sprout up. This is why bulbs must be planted in the early spring so that they get established before the heat kicks in.

If you live in a cold region, the bulbs will have to be dug up and stored in a cold, dry, and well aerated place until they are ready to be planted again the following spring.

Fertilizer

Tuberose plants love fertilizer. They will highly benefit from receiving regular fertilizer during their active growing season. Giving them a balanced fertilizer about once a month will ensure super enthusiastic flower blossoms.

Pruning

Something important to remember about rhizomatous plants is how to properly trim away their dead foliage. It is important to leave the decaying leaves on the plant for a good while before trimming them away.

This is because the dying foliage is actually converted and stored as energy within the bulb. This will help keep the bulb alive during its dormancy period, and will go into helping the bulb sprout again come spring.

Over-Wintering

If you live in USDA growing zones 8, 9, or 10, you can simply leave your tuberose bulbs underground where they will go into dormancy after they have finished flowering.

If you live outside of those zones the bulbs won’t survive a cold winter and for this reason, they will need to be dug up and stored.

You can keep the bulbs in some dry soil in a large pot, and place that pot in a dry, dark, and well aerated area in your home (a pantry or cellar will be perfect). They will simply go dormant and be ready for planting the following spring.

How do you Propagate a Tuberose Plant?

Amazing sight of bloming tuberose flowers in an alpine woodland

The final step on your journey is learning how to propagate a tuberose plant of your very own. This is very easily done, and after the plants are nice and established they won’t need all too much from you. Here are some simple steps to get you started:

1. Gardeners will usually start a tuberose bulb indoors in a humid area or in a greenhouse in the late winter or early spring (the same time one would plant calla lily bulbs). It will be safe to transplant the tuberose bulbs outdoors after the last threat of frost has passed.

2. Pick an area to plant tuberose bulbs on your property that receives direct sunlight and in soil that has been amended with compost and sand. It’s also a good idea to pick an area that is sheltered. The height of these stems makes them prone to snapping against harsh winds.

3. Dig holes that are about 8-10 inches apart from one another and dig holes deep enough so that there is about 3 inches of soil above the tuberose bulbs.

4. Fill in the holes and tamp down the soil. Make sure to water deeply right after they are planted, and maintain soil moisture as the plants are getting established. You’ll have leaves and stems shooting up in no time!

Growing tuberose plants is super straight forward and will soon turn your regular garden into a butterfly garden. Happy planting!

Closeup image of bright white tuberose flowers in full bloom

FAQs

Are tuberose plants deer resistant?

A quality that a lot of tuber plants have is the fact that they are resistant to grazing from larger pests like deer, squirrels, and rabbits!

How are tuberose plants used?

Tuberose cultivation has been popular because these white flowers are known for having an extremely lovely fragrance (a favorite of Louis XIV) and have been used a ton in perfumery. Nowadays people love to grow tuberose plants in their gardens for their ornamental quality, and they also make for an amazing cut flower specimen.

What are the damaging agents to tuberose plants?

The main thing to remember about tuberose plants is that they do not like to live in waterlogged soil. If you can avoid this they will stay super happy in your garden or large container.

Can tuberose plants survive winter temperatures?

The one thing you should remember about tuberose plants is their intolerance to extreme temperatures. They do not appreciate intense bouts of cold, and will perform their best if they are able to experience an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit regularly.

Tuberose flowers actually require about 4 months of warm temperatures before they are able to sprout up. This is why bulbs must be planted in the early spring so that they get established before the heat kicks in.

If you live in a cold region, the bulbs will have to be dug up and stored in a cold, dry, and well aerated place until they are ready to be planted again the following spring.

Are tuberose plants evergreen or deciduous?

Tuberose plants bear deciduous leaves, meaning that they will eventually change color and fall away as the cold weather approaches.

Can a tuberose plant be grown indoors?

A tuberose plant can grow indoors if it is kept in a south facing window. Just remember that these plants can grow to be over 4 feet tall, so it may not be suitable as an indoor plant in terms of size.

Can a tuberose plant be grown in a container?

Gardeners love growing tuberose in containers as they can easily be moved around this way. They’ll be just as happy in a container or in the garden.

Are tuberose plants perennials?

Tuberose plants are a perennial plant type, meaning that they will continue to produce flower blossoms each year as long as their ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

What USDA growing zone can tuberose plants grow in?

Tuberose plants are grown as cultivated plants all over the planet in all sorts of tropical and temperate regions throughout North America and elsewhere. They can grow happily outdoors in USDA growing zones 8 through 10, but should be brought indoors for the colder months.

How often should a tuberose plant be watered?

Tuberose plants only have moderate watering requirements. Rhizomatous plants are usually quite drought tolerant which is very much the case with tuberose plants.

Though they are tolerant to drought, it is not preferred. They perform their absolute best if they can receive regular water throughout their growing season — usually about 1 inch a week is perfect. This can occur either through precipitation or supplemental watering.

What are some other common names for tuberose plants?

Tuberose plants used to be known under the botanical name polianthes tuberosa, but that was eventually changed to agave amica. The name “tuberose” comes from the fact that they grow from an underground tuber.

Should a tuberose plant be pruned?

Something important to remember about rhizomatous plants is how to properly trim away their dead foliage. It is important to leave the decaying leaves on the plant for a good while before trimming them away.

This is because the dying foliage is actually converted and stored as energy within the bulb. This will help keep the bulb alive during its dormancy period, and will go into helping the bulb sprout again come spring.

Do tuberose plants prefer full sun or partial shade?

Tuberose plants are sun loving creatures. This means that they will be their absolute happiest if they receive a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every single day.

That being said, if a tuberose plant is growing in an area that experiences extremely hot summer temperatures, they’ll be grateful for a bit of partial shade in the heat of the afternoon sun.

Where can I buy tuberose plant seeds?

Tuberose bulbs can easily be found in your local nursery or garden centre, or you can order some online.

What is the ideal soil type for a tuberose plant?

Tuberose plants are not picky in many ways. One of those ways is the type of soil that they are planted in. They are adaptable to all types of different soil types as long as they are well draining.

Tuberose plants also seem to perform their absolute best when they are able to grow in very fertile soil. An easy way to accomplish both of these things is by incorporating some compost to the soil mix at the beginning of the growing season.

Compost will not only increase the overall nutrient content of the soil, but it will also improve its drainage. Incorporating sand can also help with drainage.

What is the easiest way to propagate a tuberose plant?

Tuberose plants are super easily propagated by simply transplanting bulbs into the garden.

How tall do tuberose plants get?

Starting underneath the earth, tuberose plants grow from sturdy rhizomes. Rhizomes (also known as a tuber) are basically an underground storage facility that contain all of the necessary nutrients and moisture to help keep a plant happy during long winters or harsh climates.

These rhizomes produce offsets, meaning that this type of plant is able to produce new plants by spreading underground, as well as spreading seed above the surface as well.

From a rhizome will grow a basal rosette of leaves, and a flower spike/flower stalk that can reach up to 4 feet in height. This impressive height is a large part of why they are such wonderful plants for the garden.

What time of year do tuberose flowers bloom?

The inflorescence of a tuberose plant is borne as a very tall flower spike that contains many smaller flowers. Flower buds will usually bloom in the early summer and can sometimes last well into late summer and fall. Their blooming period also depends on when they are planted.

Each individual tuberose flower is tubular in shape (hence its common name) that separates into 6 flaring segments from which protrude several stamens. A tuberose flower is most commonly white in color.

As mentioned before, tuberose flowers are famous for being extremely and pleasantly fragrant. This fragrant flower is said to smell like a mixture of vanilla, gardenias, orange blossoms, and some even say popcorn!

The delicious scent of these white flowers is not only appealing to human noses, but to pollinator species as well. Planting tuberose can effectively turn your regular garden into a butterfly and hummingbird garden in no time.

One of the most popular tuberose cultivars is the pink sapphire. The pink sapphire produces long stems of double flower blossoms that are an incredible pink color, which are accompanied by fleshy leaves with smooth edges. Pink sapphires make for an impeccable cut flower specimen for a fresh flower arrangement.