Mexican Single tuberose
The heavenly fragrance of tuberoses is as big a pleasure in August as ice cream. Their simple white flowers are clustered on 3-4 foot stalks above short, daylily-like foliage. Most gardeners grow them in pots (always best in the North) or dig and store in fall (we’ll send easy directions), but they’re perennial in zones 8a-11b. Although many sources offer bulbs too small to bloom, our big, fat, healthy bulbs – from an Illinois family farm where they’ve been grown since the 1930s – are sure to reward you gloriously. Learn more.
SUB TYPE American, wildflower
ZONES 8a-11b or in pots
SOURCE Illinois, America
LIGHT full sun
PLANTING & CARE
Tuberoses are easy to bloom if you start with our big bulbs and give them a long hot summer. To store till planting, just open the bags and set in a cool, dim, dry spot. 55-70° F is ideal, but close will do.
In the NORTH, we recommend growing them in pots. You can start them inside 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Set them close together and so their tips are barely covered with soil. Water and put them in a warm spot, maybe with a little bottom heat (a greenhouse heating-mat works great). Keep moist but not soggy. Once leaves emerge — which can take up to a month! — water and fertilize regularly. When nights stay in the 60s reliably, move the pot outside to a spot that’s as hot and sunny as possible — but where you can keep them well-watered. Continue to water often — probably daily — and fertilize regularly. Once they get growing, tuberoses need FULL SUN, CONSTANTLY MOIST SOIL and PLENTY OF NUTRITION to do their best. If blooms don’t appear by the time the weather cools in latest summer, bring the pot indoors to a sunny window and enjoy the blooms there.
In the SOUTH, you can bloom them successfully in the ground, where singles tend to do better and bloom earlier. Plant bulbs in early summer, in a hot, sunny spot with well-drained soil, 4-8 inches apart with about 2 inches of soil over their tips. Water once but unless it’s very dry wait till leaves emerge before watering again. Then keep soil moist and fertilize regularly. Tuberoses need LOTS OF SUN, CONSTANTLY MOIST SOIL, and PLENTY OF NUTRITION to do their best.
Elsewhere keep them growing as long as you can in the fall but eventually reduce watering till the foliage dries up or there’s a hard frost. Dig and store as glads (see above; no need for a fungicide dip), or dry and store them right in their pot.
In the spring, dump out the rhizomes. Each will have produced a cluster of daughter bulbs. Experts say that once a tuberose bulb blooms, it won’t bloom again, but any of the daughter bulbs that have reached the size of your thumb or so will bloom, and often smaller ones will, too. So add new soil to your pot and either replant the whole clustered bulb-clump or break off the largest daughter bulbs and replant only them.
An even simpler way that works well for us is to just leave the rhizomes right in their pot the second year and water and feed them heavily through the summer. However, by the third year they will have grown too crowded and you must repot. No matter what you do, regular fertilizing is always important to assure re-bloom.
Learn more about growing and enjoying tuberoses at our Spring Diverse Newsletter Archives.