NZ Gardener - - Q&a - Paul Hoek, NZ Bulbs

QHow did tuberoses get their name and where do they come from? My clump pro­duced one stem with a few small droop­ing pink/ blue flow­ers. It was meant to be highly scented but I didn’t think it was. BER­NICE OLSEN, MASTER­TON

AThe com­mon name tuberose is a con­trac­tion of the botan­i­cal name

Po­lianthes tuberosa. Po­lianthes means many flow­ers; tuberosa refers to the thick fleshy roots and bulb – all very con­fus­ing as it is not a tu­ber.

They are widely used in per­fume as they’re so fra­grant, es­pe­cially at night. I find the scent very strong – to the point of be­ing over­pow­er­ing – even dur­ing the day.

Na­tive to Mex­ico, tuberoses are now grown in many warmer parts of the world.

Each bulb pro­duces only one flower on a tall (60-70cm) stem, high above a fairly dense clus­ter of leaves.

Tuberoses take a good five months from plant­ing to flow­er­ing. Bulbs planted in early Novem­ber do not flower un­til mid-March. They must have warmth and a full-sun po­si­tion, on the sunny side of a house, or even in a green­house.

There are two main forms: the orig­i­nal sin­gle and the much more com­monly sold dou­ble form

Po­lianthes tuberosa ‘The Pearl’. Flow­ers of both forms are pink­ish in bud, open­ing to cream with an over­pow­er­ing fra­grance.

The flower de­scribed doesn’t sound like a tuberose. Per­haps some­thing else seeded in the clump of tuberoses which haven’t flow­ered yet or maybe the bulbs were mis­la­belled.

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