Plant Tuberose for Nighttime Fragrance

A fragrant bulb related to gladiolus, Polianthes tuberosa , or more commonly, just "tuberose," is broadly planted outdoors in moon gardens, because they release their fragrance at night. Grow them indoors in pots in colder areas, because they are injured at temperatures below 50 degrees F. They will fill their house with their sweetly spotted blossoms.

Although tuberose bulbs only produce white flowers, they may be either single or double, with single varieties having six petals and double varieties having 12 petals. Handle cut tuberose flowers gently, as they bruise easily.

Pick a pot that is only about an inch larger than the combined diameter of three tuberose bulbs when they are arranged in a circle and touching each other. Ensure the pot has at least one drain hole in the bottom.

Place a small rock or piece of broken clay pot over the drainage hole in the bottom of the chosen pot. Fill the pot one-third full with good quality indoor potting soil.

Put the tuberose bulbs on top of the soil, grouping them in a circle and centered within the pot. They should be close together but not quite touching. Position the bulbs with the flat side on the bottom and the pointed end facing up.

Fill the pot the rest of the way with potting soil using a scoop or your hands to sprinkle the soil around and between the bulbs. Tap the bottom of the pot on a hard surface to help settle the soil.

Water the newly planted bulbs until the excess drains out the bottom of the pot. After all of the excess water drains away, empty the pot's drip tray so that it is not sitting in water. Thereafter, water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.

Put the pot under fluorescent full-spectrum grow lights. Position the pot so the top of it is no more than 3 inches below the lights. Provide a way to raise the level of the lights as the tuberose bulbs grow so the lights remain no more than 3 inches above the tops of the plants.

Move plants from beneath the lights just before the flowers open. Place them in bright, indirect light to prolong the life of the flowers.

Remove spanish flower heads when the flowers fade and put the pots back benefit the lights. Continue watering as needed to keep the soil from drying out completely. The foliage will continue to produce food, which will enable the bulbs to produce flowers the following year.

Fertilize after the flowers fade by watering with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks until the leaves fade.

Cut off the dried stems after the leaves fade and place the pot in a cool, dry place above 60 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 10 to 12 weeks.

Repot bulbs in fresh soil after their period period, water well and place under lights.

If you want to cut blooming tuberose for a flower arrangement, make the cut above the second or third set of leaves above ground level. This will enable the bulbs to produce food and bloom again the following year.

Copyright Sharon Sweeny, 2011