Tuberose, a plant of the amaryllis family, polianthes tuberosa, cultivated for its fragrant flowers. The generic name, from the supposition that it refers to many flowers, is frequently written poly-anthes, but it was given for the reason that it is especially a flower of cities (Gr. 7r6?u£, a city, and avdog, a flower). The common name is from the specific tuberosa, it having been called by the old French gardeners plante tubereuse; this is commonly corrupted into tube rose, and the plant spoken of as if it were a variety of the rose. It has a solid, pear-shaped tuber, from the base of which proceed roots, and from the apex long, linear, channelled leaves, and late in summer a stem 2 to 3 ft. high, the upper part of which is crowded with short-pedicelled flowers, and the lower part bears a few short leaves; the flowers consist of a funnel-shaped, slightly curved tube, with six nearly equal, spreading lobes, often tinged with rose without, creamy white within, with a powerful and, to some, oppressive fragrance; both single and double forms are cultivated.
A few years ago an accidental variety appeared in the grounds of Mr. John Henderson, Flushing, N. Y., which has been called "the Pearl," and is of especial value in having the stem only about half the usual height, while bearing quite as many flowers. In a commercial view the tuberose is one of the most important of florists' plants; it is but a few years since the bulbs were all imported, some from Holland, but the finest from Italy; after a while it was found that they would grow as well in New Jersey as in Holland, while those raised in Georgia and Florida are much larger and finer than any that can be produced abroad, and their culture is rapidly extending. The old tubers produce around the base numerous offsets, which serve for propagation; these are cultivated in rows, like onions, for one or two years, according to size, to make flowering bulbs, as they are called in the trade. To insure their flowering, the tubers should be stored where the temperature will not go below 50°, or the undeveloped flower buds may be killed.
If the dry tubers are planted in the open ground in northern localities, the flowers are apt to be killed by frost, just as they are opening; to avoid this, the bulbs should be put in boxes or pots of earth early in May, and placed in a greenhouse or warm window, where they will start, and then transferred to the open ground, after cold storms are over, in June. Botanists are not agreed as to the native country of the plant, some accrediting it to the East Indies and others to Mexico, but it must be treated like a native of the tropics. The flowers, both from being white and on account of their fragrance, are in great demand for bouquets and floral designs, and florists resort to every means to secure a supply during the winter. For early winter flowers, the plants that have not yet bloomed in the open ground are taken up and put in the greenhouse; and bulbs of the previous year's growth are carefully kept until August, when they are planted under glass. For forcing purposes the dwarf variety mentioned is especially valuable; the forced plants are rarely potted, but set in a bed of earth made upon the greenhouse bench.
A tuber or bulb after it has once flowered is valueless.
Double Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa).