My first remembrance of tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa) was when I visited a friend in Houston. They had them growing in pots as well as in the ground by their pool. I couldn't believe the sweet fragrance that filled the summer air. Ever since that wonderful visit, I have tried to recreate this fragrance in my own gardens. The single tuberose is one of the toughest, most reliable bloomers for this group of plants - they are actually members in the same family as Agave. They will grow during the summer and bloom mid-summer.
Planting: Planting a tuber is one of the most enjoyable things. You can't do it wrong! Plant the tuber on its side. It doesn't matter which side. The tuber will "fix" itself. Plant it with no more than 2-3 inches of soil above it.
Landscape and Maintenance: The tuberose will perform best in full sun! Yes, you read that correctly, full sun. In 2022, we had 5 weeks of "heat advisory" temperatures and they did great. They will do ok if they get a bit of late afternoon shade, but not too much. Cold freezes will hurt them and they like to be dry during the winter, so plant them accordingly or in pots and bring them in during the winter. I hope you enjoy these in your garden as I have in mine!
Water: The tuberose will perform best if you give it a good drink, about an inch, once or twice a week rather than light little waterings. You don't want to have the plant in standing water. It is also best to water early in the day if you use sprinklers so that the foliage has time to dry before evening. That simply means that you will have beautiful blooms longer during the season. Make no mistake this is a hardy plant that will endure the heat and drought. It will still grow and multiply so if you need to go on vacation you don't have to worry about it.
Scent: I want to be sure to stress how significant it is to plant the tuberose somewhere that you can enjoy the scent. The tuberose has a unique scent and is used in many perfumes. Some describe it as soft and sweet while others call it light and spicy. It will fill the air if you are able to plant a few around your yard, along walkways, next to your patio, or even the mailbox. You can certainly plant it in pots and move it around or even have it in the house all the time.
Cut Blooms: If you want to enjoy the fragrance indoors, the best time to cut the top of the shoot that holds more than a dozen blooms is when at least two of them are already open. The others will open slowly over the next few days. Cutting some of the blooms to enjoy indoors will encourage additional flower growth.
We are now shipping the tuberose as tubers. The tuberose tubers will require a year of growth in the ground before you see anything growing.
Interesting facts: The tuberose have been written about for hundreds of years. The Spaniards encountered them in the early 1500s when they entered the Aztec capital of modern day Mexico City. A couple million pounds of tuberose are used each year in France for the perfume industry. The tuberose are used in India and other locations as special wedding flowers.