To those of you who have waited so patiently for this year's crop of Tuberose, it is time to celebrate!
The 2014 Tuberose is a-bloomin'.
Many of you have said the fragrance of this beauty reminds you of Jasmine.
Many have said it reminds you of Hawaii.
Others think Gardenia.
For those of you who do not know Tuberose or its allure, prepare to fall in love!
Though not large in size, each of the waxy flowers packs quite a wallop of a scent as the blooms spiral open up the stalk.
Some have called this the secret lily, owing to the fact that a number of lily varieties also have such a strong fragrance.
Tuberose is not a rose and not related to roses. Tuberose is related to Agave plants.
In the field, I leave a number of flowers so I can enjoy the scent for quite a few weeks in late summer and early fall. These few flowers send off fragrance, which wafts through the entire front garden. During the heat of the day, I smell very little of it. Come late afternoon and dusk, however, the fragrance is intense. This is because Tuberose is a night bloomer. In its native Mexican habitat, the Tuberose is pollinated by nocturnal moths.
Tuberose is not hardy here, but it is quite easy to dig each year and store. So, that is what I do. I plant in the spring in late April or May. To allow for the best drainage, I mound the soil a bit so as to actually plant the tuberose very close to the natural soil level. I add a dash of bone meal. Then I cover it with only an inch or two of soil. After watering in, I wait. Fortunately, I do not have to wait as long as one waits on tulips or other spring-flowering bulbs. For the bulk of the summer - some 90 to 120 days - the Tuberoses remain as tufts of light green foliage less than 6 inches tall. Then the magic happens. Flower stalks grow to 3-4 feet tall. I could extend the bloom time by staggering plantings in the spring, but I generally find some variability in bloom time from plant to plant.
Many of my Farmers' Market customers line up for bunches of Tuberose 'straight up' - no other flowers needed. For several weeks these customers return faithfully for the fragrance, which they report fills their entire apartment or home. My weekly subscription customers can look forward to either a bunch of Tuberose added to their order or a few stems mixed into their bouquets. As you can see here, I also enjoy tucking Tuberose into arrangements. Their clear white flowers and sweet fragrance are highlights of each growing season.
When the season comes to a close, I cut back the foliage and dig the Tuberose. For several weeks I let them dry in the sun on sunny days, and bring them inside if precipitation is on the way. Once fully dry, they will be good to go until next spring. Gems! Absolute gems!