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Tuberose planting and growing

Tuberose (properly tuber-ose, not tube-rose, from its name, Polianthes tuberosa). - This plant, with its tall spikes of waxen and fragrant white flowers, is well known in the middle latitudes, but usually requires more heat and a longer season than are commonly present in the most northern states.

The tuberose is a strong feeder, and loves warmth, plenty of water while growing, and a deep, rich, and well-drained soil. The bulbs may be set in the garden or border the last of May or in June, covering them about 1 inch deep. Preparatory to planting, the old dead roots at the base of the bulb should be cut away and the pips or young bulbs about the sides removed.

After keeping them till their scars are dried over, these pips may be planted 5 or 6 inches apart in drills, and with good soil and cultivation they will make blooming bulbs for the following year.

Before planting the large bulbs, it may be well to examine the points, to determine whether they are likely to bloom. The tuberose blooms but once. If there is a hard, woody piece of old stem in the midst of the dry scales at the apex of the bulb, it has bloomed, and is of no value except for producing pips.

Likewise if, instead of a solid core, there is a brownish, dry cavity extending from the tip down into the middle of the bulb, the heart has rotted or dried up, and the bulb is worthless as far as blooming is concerned.

Bulbs of blooming size set in the border in June flower toward the close of September. They may be made to flower three or four weeks sooner by starting them early in some warm place, where they may be given a temperature of about 60 to 70 degrees. Prepare the bulbs as above, and place them with their tips just above the surface in about 3-or 4-inch pots, in light sandy soil. Water them thoroughly, afterwards sparingly, till the leaves have made considerable growth. These plants may be turned out into the open ground the last of May or in June, and will probably flower in early September.

In the northern states, if planted in the border they will not start into growth until the ground has become thoroughly warm, - usually after the middle of June, - making the season before frost too short for their perfect growth and flower. If any danger of fall frost is feared, they may be lifted into pots or boxes and taken into the house, when they will bloom without a check. As with other bulbs, a sandy soil will suit.

Just before frost dig up the bulbs, cut off the tops to within 2 inches of the apex of the bulb. They may then be placed in shallow boxes and left out in the sun and air for a week or more, to cure. Each evening, if the nights are cold, they should be removed to some room where the temperature will not fall below 40 degrees. When the outer scales have become dry, the remaining soil may be shaken off and the bulbs stored away in shallow boxes for the winter. They keep best in a temperature of 45 to 50 degrees. It should never fall below 40.