The Cultivator & Country Gentleman, 41:358 (June 8, 1876)

Geo. A. Martin

"Amateur," page 328, requests directions for growing tuberoses. To make them grow is easy enough; but to make them blossom to the tops of the spikes is another affair. The first requisite is sound, healthy tubers; the others are rich soil, abundant heat for the roots, and plentiful watering.

In selecting the tubers take such as are bright large and solid, with no old dried root at the bottom. Examine carefully the crown; if it is black in the centre the flower gem is dead and it will produce nothing but leaves. Pick off all offsets; they weaken the plant.

In potting it is the common practice to use five-inch pots, but Rand recommends seven inch, and cites Boswell to sustain the recommendation. Two inches or more of well-rotted cow manure should be placed in the bottom of each pot, then till to the top with soil composed of light loam, sand and old manure. The addition of a little pulverized charcoal is an improvement. Having filled the pot insert the tuber just deep enough to cover all but the tip of the crown. Then shake the pot gently to settle the contents.

If one has an active hot-bed, the pots may be plunged in it to their rims and covered with tan; but in the absence of such convenience, a box of fresh stable manure in a bam or other outbuilding will furnish the necessary heat to start the roots growing. The writer has had satisfactory success in starting tuberoses burying the pots in a heap of fermenting hops from the brewery. In a week to two weeks, according to the heat, the green shoots will appear; then give more light, air and water, the pots are in a hot-bed, it is better to let them remain until the buds begin to appear on the flower spike. Then remove them to the piazza, lawn or garden bed. In the latter situation the pots may be plunged to the rim, or if it is not later than July, they may be turned out into the soil. They should be given a warm, sunny situation; the hotter the better. The flower scape should be kept tied up neatly to thin stake. The late blooming plants may stand out until the approach of frosty nights, when they must be brought in-doors. A warm dry greenhouse is the most congenial place, but with careful attention they can be made to bloom in a warm parlor, until late in autumn. The usual time from planting the dry tuber until the flower-spike is in full bloom, is about sixteen weeks. This varies with the amount of heat.

Water plentifully. From the first appearance of growth until the last bud expands they should never be suffered to flag for want of water. A single neglect in this direction after the flowers have begun to open may cause the loss of all the unexpanded buds.

The same tuber never produces flowers but once, and is then worthless. But a mass of bulblets will be found clinging around the base. If these are removed, kept in a warm dry place during the winter, and planted out in warm, rich soil in summer, they will become blooming tubers the third year. A box of dry sand in a warm closet is the best place for wintering. They should never be exposed for any length of time to a temperature lower than 50° Fahr., nor planted out in a climate like that of this State earlier than the first of June. A very slight chill will blast the flower germ in the centre of each tuber, and then although it may look fair on the outside it will produce foliage and nothing more.