Tuberose is also known as Polianthes tuberosa or Agave amica and it is a perennial plant from the Asparagaceae family. Its common name derives from the Latin word “tuberosa” which means swollen or tuberous and it refers to its root system. Tuberose contains extracts which are used as a note in perfumery.
The Agave amica plant is originally native to Mexico, but it is no longer found in the wild as a result of being domesticated by the Aztecs who called it omixochitl and used it to flavour chocolate. In fact, the Tuberose plant is a cultigen, which is a term used to describe plants that are no longer found in the wild.
The Europeans were fascinated by these plants when they arrived in Mexico, so they brought them to Europe and to their other colonies. That’s when the Tuberose made its debut in the world of French perfumery, and centuries later, it is still beloved by perfume wearers and famous perfumers such as Fracas, Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani, and more
Tuberose is currently grown in tropical and temperate countries. Most gardeners are familiar with this plant and appreciate it for its ornamental value.
Before you start growing this attractive plant in your home or garden, it is important to know that Agave amica is mildly toxic to pets and humans. This means that ingesting it might not kill your pet, but it will most likely cause digestive discomfort and pain.
|Agave amica, Polianthes tuberosa
|Tuberose, Polianthus Lily, St. Joseph’s Staff
|Perennial flowering herb/succulent
|up to 1-1.2 meters (3-4 feet) tall
|Full sun, Partial shade
|Fertile, well-drained, loamy
|Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
|Summer, Early Autumn
|White, light yellow
- Agave amica, also known as Polianthes tuberosa, or simply the tuberose, is a popular ornamental perennial plant, native to Mexico, that belongs to the family Asparagaceae and the subfamily Agavoideae.
- Tuberose is an important plant for the perfumery industry as Tuberose extracts are used as a note in perfumery.
- The species was first described in science by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, but it was named Polianthes tuberosa. Forty years later, Friedrich Kasimir Medikus moved the species from Tuberosa to Tuberosa amica.
- In India and Bangladesh, tuberose flowers are generally used in making flower garlands as offerings to gods and are also used as wedding ornaments. In Indonesia, tuberose plants are also used in cooking.
- Tuberoses play an important role in Hawaiian culture, where they are used alongside orchids, jasmine, and plumerias to make leis (traditional garlands or flower wreaths).
- For the Victorians, this flower was a symbol of voluptuousness and love. The tuberose flowers are commonly linked with purity, peace and innocence in many cultures.
- The agave amica flowers were once associated with funerals, but now the flowers are used in floral arrangements for any type of occasion.
- The flowers, nectar, immature flowering stem and the centre of the rosette of all agave species are edible and, with proper preparation, can add a sweet taste to food. Some species, though, contain relatively high levels of toxic chemicals that may cause bellyaches, so it’s best to handle these plants with care.
- Tuberoses make amazing cut flowers and there are some tricks that can help you make the tuberose last longer after cutting. The first step is to cut them early in the morning from the base without any leaves. When you put them in a vase with water be sure to change the water every one to two days. You can also add some aspirin to the water and be sure to protect them from direct light.
- The fragrance of Tuberose has been used in perfumery since the 17th century when the plant was first brought to Europe. French Queen Marie Antoinette used a perfume called “Sillage de la Reine” which among other scents contained a tuberose scent. So, for this reason, the fragrance of Agave amica in perfumes is very popular. It can be mixed with other floral scents or as a stand-alone fragrance, but the person who wears it must do it with moderation as the essence is very strong and it may become sickly to the wearer.
- The Agave amica flower was among the most beloved plants of Louis XIV of France, who had them planted in flower beds of the Grand Trianon at Versailles so that the fragrance could cover the bad smells from the poor sanitation of the palace. The tuberoses were grown in clay pots and planted directly in the ground. In order to keep the perfume constantly strong, new plants were rotated.
Tuberose Features: An Overview
- Tuberose or agave amica is herbaceous and grows from underground tubers or tuberous roots.
- The tuberose leaves are pale green, approximately 30 to 50 cm long, up to 13mm wide at the base and are slightly succulent. The leaves are clustered at the base and smaller clasping leaves along the stem.
- The inflorescence is like a spike that can reach up to 1 m in height and bears white flowers. The flowers are tubular, one tube is 6 cm long, separating into 6 segments at the end and have an overwhelming fragrance.
- There are six stamens inserted into the tube of the Tuberose flower and a three-part stigma. One interesting feature of the fragrant waxy flowers is that they bloom only at night, making them perfect additions to moon gardens.
- The fragrance of Tuberose is compared to the smell of Gardenia with subtle hints of jasmine, jackfruit and buttered popcorn which intensifies during the night time.
- The fruits appear in a capsule which splits when the plant is fully developed.
- There have been reported species of orange-flowered varieties of Agave amica.
If you want to be sure of the growing success of your plant you will have to plant the tuberoses in pots outdoors. If you live in a region with cold weather, move the plants indoors to prevent them from being affected by frost. If you choose to grow them directly in your flower garden, be sure to dig up the plant in winter and transfer them to a warmer environment.
During the period of growing and flowering, namely in the spring and summer, you have to use a fertilizer for these bulbous plants, following the indications specified on the label of the product.
- HARDINESS ZONE.7-11
- GROW.When started indoors set containers on a heat mat to speed growth.Set Polianthes outdoors once the soil has warmed and nighttime temperatures remain above 60°F (15.6°C)
- WHEN TO PLANT.Early spring
- TALL.Grows up to 2-3 ft. tall and wide (60-90 cm).
- USE.Excellent addition to beds and borders, containers. To be planted in spring.
- Tueose is a peennial he of the Amayllidaceae family, which can each a height of 1 mete. Stems eect, unanched. Basal leaves ae clusteed, linea, pointed at the top, dak geen, scatteed on the flowe stem, gadually ecoming smalle and act-like upwad. Spikes teminal, often floweed in each act, acts geen; flowes milky white, fagant.
- The flowe language of tueose is dangeous happiness, ecause tueose only emits a stong fagance at night, so it is called tueose. Because its fagance is too stong, it will make people feel difficult to eathe, so geneally tueose is not placed indoos, so its flowe language is: dangeous happiness.
- Tueose is an evegeen he in its place of oigin. It gows all yea ound and looms in fou seasons when the tempeatue is suitale, ut it is most pospeous in summe; ecause of the sevee winte in most aeas, it can only e cultivated as uls in sping: uds gow in sping, loom in summe and autumn, and loom in winte.
- Tueose is self-pollinating, ut since the pistil matues late than the stamens, the natual seed setting ate is low. Tueose likes a wam, humid, sunny envionment, and the optimum tempeatue fo gowth is 20-30°C. The soil quality equiements ae not stict, and clay loam is suitale; it is moe sensitive to soil moistue, and likes fetile, moist ut not watelogged soil.
- Tueose will continuously gow small alls, and new uls will geneally egin to loom in the second yea. The longe the cultivation peiod, the moe uls and the moe flowes thee will e!
- The tuberose bulb may need to be planted for 1 full year before blooming in August or September of the following year.
- THE 'TUBEROSE' FLOWER IS ONE OF THE TOUGHEST most reliable bloomers. They are in the same family as Agave.
- THE FOLIAGE APPEARS DURING THE SUMMER and the sweet-smelling bloom begins to appear in August or September.
- DRY SOIL DURING THE WINTER IS PREFERABLE and cold freezes can hurt them so plant accordingly. The tuberose can be planted in pots.
- PLANT IN FULL SUN, WELL-DRAINED SOIL
Last update on 2024-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The tuberose plant can be affected by snails and slugs which are tempted to eat it. The best way to get rid of these annoying pests is to remove them by hand. Another pest that can affect your Agave amica is the red spider – this pest will cause the appearance of discoloured spots on the plant since it feeds on the cells of the plant. You can eliminate it with the help of acaricides.
The roots of Tuberoses can be affected by white worms, and the plant may sometimes be affected by diseases such as fungi, botrytis or Phytophthora. In this situation, the roots will rot and the plant will develop white or grey mould or powder on the leaves and stems.
Depending on the zone you are living in, tuberoses are planted differently. If you live in a colder zone with hard winters, the tuberoses are considered summer annuals, so you can plant them in a pot and keep them outdoors during summer and move them indoors when the temperatures start to decrease.
You have to keep the Tuberoses indoors over winter as these plants need a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. To prepare them for the winter period, you need to cut back on watering and allow the pots to dry off pots at the end of the summer when leaves begin to die. You can resume your watering and feeding schedule in the spring.
When keeping the tuberose indoors, the UV rays from a south-facing window may scorch the plant. The best way to ensure your plants get the right amount of light is by keeping them near a bright window, but away from the afternoon sun. Another vital aspect of caring for these plants is that they need fresh air when grown indoors.
So, occasionally, open the window to allow the plant to enjoy the breeze. The ideal temperature in the room can range between 18 to 20 degrees Celsius, so it is safe to say that the Tuberose needs moderate temperatures to encourage flowering toward the end of the following year.
To produce flowers, the Tuberose plants require around four months of warm temperatures from the moment the rhizome is planted. Usually, gardeners start the rhizomes in pots in greenhouses beginning in late winter or early spring and move them outdoors in late spring, once frost danger has passed.
If the tuberoses are planted directly in the ground, they may not bloom until September, this way the period in which the plant blooms is reduced considerably. When the foliage begins to yellow, in October, you should clip the leaves and take the rhizomes out of the soil and store them in a cool, dry and dark place during the winter period.
When you plant Tuberoses be sure to provide them with a warm sheltered position and humus-rich, fertile, well-drained soil. Due to their height, the Tuberose plants may need protection against strong winds and rain. You can use a stake to secure the stem in an area shielding it from severe weather. The plants develop well in sandy soil and in sunny spots. When the plants start to grow, they will need a great amount of moisture so apart from watering, a humus-rich soil will help the plant greatly.
When it comes to watering, humidity represents an important part of the care routine. The tuberose sucks up moisture and requires plenty of water. Keep it hydrated with frequent watering. And be careful that as the plant grows it will need even more water.
Make a humidity tray to increase moisture around the tuberose in the air, especially in the winter or if the room where you keep the pot is dry. Place 2.5 cm of wet pebbles on a tray or saucer, then put the pot on top of the pebbles. Add water as needed to keep the pebbles wet but keep the water beneath the top of the pebbles so moisture doesn’t wick up through the drainage hole.
Ensure that your pot or container has adequate drainage holes, as the roots of the plant must never sit in waterlogged soil. Also, remember that weekly deep waterings are better for plants than lighter drinks every day or two.
Fertilize the tuberose every three or four weeks when the plant is actively growing during spring and summer, using a solution of water and soluble fertilizer. An 8-8-8 fertilizer, with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is highly recommended for tuberose. You can also apply solid fertilizer around the soil of the plant once every 6 weeks.
For the Tuberoses that you plant outdoors, you will have to water them moderately during the growing season. As Tuberoses grow, provide roughly 2.5 to 4 cm of water once a week. In outdoor conditions, these perennials prefer more frequent watering in smaller amounts. Reduce watering if there is a rainy period. Be sure not to overwater them, as Tuberoses rot easily and this is the reason why you really need well-drained soil.
Tuberoses multiply by the division of tubers in autumn and by seed in spring. There are different procedures depending on whether the tuberose is planted in a pot or directly in your garden. For the division of tubers, if the plant is potted, you have to follow the next steps: you have to carefully remove the plant from the pot and after that try to remove substrate as much as possible from the roots.
For the third step, you have to separate a tuber with the help of scissors, previously disinfected with pharmacy alcohol. For the final step, you will have to plant the tuber in another pot and water it with rooting agents to encourage the development of the roots. If the tuberose is planted in the garden you will have to dig around the plant with a hand hoe about 30 cm deep.
Then water the plant thoroughly to soften the soil. Next, you will have to separate the tuber with your hands or with the help of a serrated knife, previously disinfected with pharmacy alcohol. Now you can plant the separated tuber in another spot of your garden.
If you want to multiply Tuberoses from seeds here are the steps you need to follow: first, you will need a seedling tray that you will fill with universal growing compost and water thoroughly. After that, you will have to put a maximum of two seeds in each socket and cover them with a very thin layer of substrate, as the seeds still need some light in order to germinate.
For the last step, you will have to put the seedling in a plastic tray without holes, outdoors, in a semi-shade place. As an important tip try to avoid letting the soil remain dry between waterings and when you water the seedling just pour water into the tray without holes. The seeds will germinate between one and two months.
If you decide to grow Tuberoses in your flower garden, you will enjoy the strong perfume and beautiful, delicate, white flowers all summer long. These ornamental plants do not have any special needs regarding their care.
The only thing you have to take care of is to keep them indoors if you live in an area with hard winters or if the temperatures go below 15 degrees Celsius. Another thing to keep in mind is that these plants need plenty of water, a minimum of six hours of sunlight, well-drained soil and fertilizer from time to time.
Agave amica, commonly known as Tuberoses, are among the most popular florist shop flowers worldwide thanks to their amazing smell and delicate blooms. If you love Tuberoses as much as we do, you can try your hand grow these plants in a cutting garden and use their blooms to create fragrant flower arrangements and bouquets.
Are you growing Tuberoses in your garden? Share your experience in the comments!