Polianthes tuberosa, the tuberose, is a perennial plant related to the agaves, family Agavaceae. Extracts of the extremely fragrant flower are used as a component of perfumes in perfumery. The common name derives from the Latin tuberosa, meaning swollen or tuberous in reference to its root system. Polianthes means "white-flowered" in Greek.
The tuberose is a night-blooming plant native to Mexico, as is every other known species of Polianthes. It grows in elongated spikes up to 45 cm long that produce clusters of fragrant waxy white flowers that bloom from the bottom towards the top of the spike. It has long, bright green leaves clustered at the base of the plant and smaller, clasping leaves along the stem. Epiphyllous adhesion of stamens is seen in the flower.
Members of the closely related genus Manfreda are often called "tuberoses". While tuberose was once associated with funerals, it is now used in floral arrangements for other occasions, including weddings. In Indonesia, tuberose flowers are also used in cooking.
Tuberose is best cultivated in hardiness zones 8-10. It is a tropical plant, and is perennial in hardiness zones 9 to 11. Plant the bulbs in late Winter to early Spring (after the frosts have finished). Plant bulbs in succession (leaving two weeks between plantings) for a longer, staggered flowering period. The soil must be well-drained and loamy. It needs to be prepared deeply with compost or well-rotted manure. The soil must be lime-free. Full sun yields the best results. If necessary, plant in pots which can be moved to gain maximum sunshine.
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