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Titillating news, folks. My tuberose has bloomed at last.
Whew. I can’t, alas, confirm such an occurrence myself (this being a family newspaper) but the online scribblers of such saucy information do make a good point about that scent. It will truly knock your socks off. It’s certainly on the sexy side: as alluring as orange blossom or jasmine, yet mixed with something spicier, like menthol. And the olfactory effect at night is so powerful, it fills a room, then sticks around for hours.
The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley adored Polianthes tuberosa (to use its Latin name.) He called it “the sweetest flower for scent that blows” and paid tribute in a gushy poem. And around the world, this plant has a strongly sensual image. But in Canada? Ah, the tuberose takes its sweet time to seduce us.
The name is pronounced in two separate syllables, as in “tuber” then “rose,” and it’s a tropical plant, which actually has no connection to roses at all. The white and waxy-looking cut flowers are sometimes on sale in florists. Designers love them for wedding bouquets and perfume manufacturers swoon over that incredible fragrance.
Yet for gardeners, this is a summer bulb, to grow in a pot. I bought mine from GardenImport, the bulb specialists in Richmond Hill, and waited two long years for flowers. The first summer, I potted up three tantalizing tuberose bulbs in a wide, deep container, watered often, fertilized when I remembered. And my reward? A bunch of boring, strappy foliage. Even so, I persisted, grudgingly hauling the pot down to the basement when winter came, then staggering up again with it last spring.
And success at last? Nope, more boring foliage. Then in August — eureka — one flower spike nosed up. It then took an eternity to grow taller. I waited. And waited. Not until early last December — long after the pot had been brought back indoors — did the flowers deign to open and fill the living room with their divine scent.
But boy, was it worth the wait. Like Shelley, I get gushy about tuberose now, because this plant has bewitched me too. So come summer, I’ll be trying it again. And maybe I’ll have better results. Dugald Cameron of GardenImport says the double-flowered versions (the ones I grew) take longer to bring into bloom than the single-flowered type. So I intend potting up both.
He’ll have them on sale come spring. If you want some, email email@example.com now.
Take time to smell the titillating tuberose.
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