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POLIANTHES tuberosa

Image of Polianthes tuberosa

Jesse Saylor

Family

Amaryllidaceae

Botanical Name

POLIANTHES tuberosa

Plant Common Name

Tuberose

General Description

Intoxicatingly fragrant, night-blooming white flowers grace this tuberous perennial from late summer to autumn. The tuberose is fully deciduous and originates from Mexico. In its natural habitat it favors sites with friable, sandy soil with organic matter mixed in. It was one of the first New World plants brought back by the Spanish, so it has been cultivated for centuries in Europe and beyond. In fact, its long-lasting blooms are highly valued in India where they are used in religious ceremonies.

The tuberose has elongated underground tubers that spread slowly over time. Long, strap-like leaves of green or blue-green rise from the tubers to form an unimpressive clump of basal foliage. After a long, warm growing season it produces tall, spiky stems lined with plump, dusty lavender buds. These open to show white, starry, tubular flowers. The sweet fragrance of the blossoms rival that of the gardenia. Moths pollinate the flowers and green seed capsules that mature to brown follow. The foliage becomes fully dormant as winter's cold or seasonal drought sets in.

Grow tuberose in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. The rhizomes can survive in the ground as long as soil does not freeze. In cold zones they can be lifted and stored in a cool, dry place over winter. Tubers stored in sand tend to fare best. They require at least four months of a warm growing weather to produce flowers. One of the most common cultivars available is ‘The Pearl', which has semi-double blossoms.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    11 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    7 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Sea Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Sea Green, Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green, Yellow Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Cutflower, Feature Plant, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No