Tuberose haven't bloomed

rosa43September 30, 2009

The tuberose I planted in pots this spring have been very disappointing. I planted several pots of both the double and single varieties, They had lots of sun, water and fertilizer. I got lots of top growth, but only one flower. I planted them closely in the pots. Any suggestions on how to care for them now, and how to get them to bloom next year. The days are still warm here, but the nights are getting down in the 50s. I'll be moving all of my tropical plants either into my house, or into a sun room I plan to keep above 40 degrees within the next couple of weeks. We get our first freeze around Halloween.

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Add me to the list of confounded tuberose growers -- I've had my bunch of 'The Pearl' (the double variety) for a couple of years and got . . . . nuthin. I've heard they don't bloom well after they bloom the first time, since they're putting more energy into making new bulbs, so maybe it's time to say goodbye to them.

I know they like it warm, moist and humid, which we didn't have that much of this summer, but give me a break!

And it kills me, because the fragrance really is that good -- like jasminum sambac, but heavier, if anything.

Hey, even Superman couldn't deal with kryptonite!


    Bookmark   October 10, 2009 at 10:55AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

The first year I got nothing. I experimented keeping mine gowing all winter in the sunroom fert once a month. That did the trick when I put them out I started getting blooms in July and they did not stop the rest of the summer.

I read they needed the green leaf to grow a long time to feed the bulb to bloom. After reading that I thought maybe the bulb was not getting enough energy to bloom. So I let them grow and energize all winter.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2009 at 11:00PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Mine has been in the greenhouse since I bought it and bloomed two spikes last year. Nothing at all this year even though the plant is huge and lush.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 3:44PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

buyorsell888, do you think maybe your plant needs fresh soil and seperated?

I read some where you should seperate them every two years. They are heavy feeders. I feed mine a 1/2 strength every week. They need a lot of sun so I put it on the patio that gets sun morning and afternoon.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 11:55AM
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I received my first ever tuberose (double) in April by mail order - 3 bulbs - and had great luck so far. I started them in pots then put out to my greenhouse in May, transplanted straight into the soil on the very hot, south side. The soil is heavily laced with aged horse manure and grass mulch, which they loved. I fertilized three times over summer. We live in an arid location; rarely is there humidity.

In mid-September, they put up a bloom stalk - I had to cover them with a towel every night as we get frost then, although the days are still quite warm. In early October, I dug them up in one clump and transplanted them to a large pot which I brought indoors to a sunny west window. Oct 20th, the blooms opened - heavenly, my house smells wonderful! I'll keep them as quiet house plants all winter; in spring, they go back to the ground again where they can spread out and get lots of nutrients while creatures aerate the soil. My experience is all plants do their best in the ground. And yes, they're heavy feeders.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 10:58PM
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I've had the same problem this year. It is maddening!
Tuberoses are amazing. By night, they are one of the very few scents I find too spicy-strong up close, but this is not a problem because they waft exquisitly.

I have flowers last year, dormancy indoors, then great foliage, but not flowers this fall.

Anne Lovejoy reccomends just one or two bulbs to a spacious 6 or 8 inch clay pot. I will try dividing mine because now they are crowded.

Marquest, I like your idea about keeping them green over winter. If I can, I wil try that too.

I have heard that they do not bloom the second year in India. They seem to come back as nicely as any perenial bulb and bloom in the South though. This might be something we need to look into.

Incidentally, I have the same problem with my Chlidanthus fragrans bulbs.

Best wishes,
Matt Di Clemente

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 8:51PM
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I've read that for us who have to grow them in pots, there are two reasons why a mature size bulb dosen't bloom. One is the temperature is not warm enough during growing season, and the other is that the overwintered bulb was not kept dry enough, causing the potential flower buds inside the bulb to die.

I bought 3 bulbs last year, grew them in pots, and left them on my patio in summer. But we had a cold summer and night temperature never got above 60F. That summer only one of my three bulbs bloomed. This year I got three new bulbs, potted them up and grew indoors for a long time, until it got warm enough outside, then I put them on the patio again. We had a very warm summer this year, and all three of them bloomed!

I've read that if you keep them active growing all year round, eventually they will get less and less bloom. They need the dormancy to recover and keep best shape. Dividing and storing the bulbs in a dry environment is recommended. I did this last fall but all the daughter bulbs I had this spring were too small to bloom, and that's why I bought new bulbs this year. And I'm not planing to save them this winter. I think it probably will take me two years to make the young bulbs to bloom (the old mother bulb disapeared after blooming).

Tuberoses are heavy feeders so I added some manure and bone meal in the potting mix. Also I don't bury the mature bulbs too deep - I left the top half inch to one inch of the tip above the soil. I've heard this will help them bloom better. (But if you are growing a baby bulb it's better to bury a little deeper, only leave the very top above soil, and this will help the young bulb to grow fast and fat.)

This summer I kept one of the three tuberoses grwoing indoors by a west facing window and it bloomed just as well as the ones I left outdoors. I really enjoyed the fragrance!! :D

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 1:55AM
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marquest(z5 PA)

deereyebrow, you seemed to have proved the growing all year that they will bloom.

I often wonder why instruction for plants are to dig and keep them dry in a bag all winter. No plant in its natural growing habitat is a dried bulb in a bag. It maybe a low rain season in an area but they would probably never be totally dry if they are in soil outside.

I grow all my Armarylis like a houseplant I just do not water as much maybe a sip of water every now and then and they repeat bloom every year. So many people get these bulbs during the holiday and never see a bloom again. They bloom Feb-April. That is when they bloom in a warmer climate.

So I said all this to say...If it is a tropical bulb I keep them dry but not bone dry in their pot and try to give them the same growing conditions they would enjoy in their natural habitat.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 3:14PM
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jason83(Zone 8b/9a (North Florida))

I purchased 50 rather large bulbs online in June and planted them, not expecting any blooms until next year. They're all the single-flowered variety. I planted 45 of them in an 8" raised bed at a rather neglected back part of the property, but with a variety of soil types (compost, leaf mold, top soil, peat). It gets about 6-8 hours of sunlight from late morning until early afternoon. The other 5 got planted in a container.

It gets extremely hot here in summer, for several months, and they seem to really like the heat (or at least can stand it). They got watered with a sprinkler head just about every day because of how dry it can get here, and the blooms started emerging around mid-October. I did apply fertilizer around July (5-10-10).

It seems that when the bulbs are in containers they don't bloom as much, as the 5 I planted in the container have only produced two flower stems, and they're much shorter and won't be opening for another week, as opposed to the raised bed that's blooming like crazy. I don't think they like to be very crowded, as they do make a lot of side bulblets. The bulbs I planted were very large...they looked like giant garlic bulbs you'd buy in the produce market, with lots of side bulblets.

I've also heard that once the bulb flowers, it won't rebloom. Rather, it's the side bulblets that begin to take over that start the reblooming. I'll probably be blessed with flowers until our first major frosts.

Nowadays in our climate the days are rather cool, so the fragrance is very slight, as opposed to heady and strong. We did have one day where it was very hot (mid 90's) and very warm at night - the fragrance perfumed the entire property with a very delicious Jasmine/Gardenia-like smell.

They can smell terrible if the blooms get wet - that lasts for about a day until they've completely dried. However, the few stems I've cut and placed in the kitchen perfume the entire house at night - when you come in the front door you immediately smell a strong fragrance, reminiscent of Gardenias - it's very pleasant.

It's very worth it, if you live in a colder zone, to plant them outside and dig them up before the ground starts to hard freeze. You might even get away with not having to dig them up if you pile on the mulch. :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 3:36PM
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WOW what a lovely picture, jason83! I try to imagine how your entier property is filled with the wonderful fragrance... Must be SOOOOO nice!! I too have only grown the single blooming form, and I grow them in pots. Mine start to bloom in late August - early September. I think some of the limits of growing them in pots are, like you said, being crowded, less nutrients for them, and also the temperature of soil changes much more dramatically in a pot than it would in the ground. I think that might be one of the reasons why my potted tuberoses did much better in a hot summer than in a cool summer. And I think you are right that in the following years it will be the side bulb's job to bloom, and to produce more bulbs. Each bulb only bloom for one season.

Hi marquest, I didn't get you there... How did I prove they can keep blooming by growing all year round? But my English is not so great. What I tried to say before is I read that if you keep them growing actively all the time, whithout going to dormancy, they will eventually bloom less and less. But that's just what I read, I didn't do an experiment to prove it. I read your ealier posts again, did you get your tuberose to bloom a second time successfully? With or without going to dormancy inbetween blooming? Maybe I understood it wrong. I think you are right, giving them more fert when growing in pot seemed to make your experiment very succussful! I myself haven't had overwintered bulbs bloom a second time yet, so all I said was what I read plus what I had experience with. I bought bulbs this two years, from two different places, and the differet result of blooming seemed to me could only have two reasons: 1, the first vendor did not store their bulbs properly ( though they looked good and are even bigger then the second vendor's bulbs); 2, my growing temperature made a big difference. All I've said was based on that.

And you are right, some other bulbs like armarylis, freesias, tuber begonias, etc. can stay in pots for dormancy. I also agree with you that if a certain cultivar of a certain plant can survive and rebloom nicely in nature, and if we can provide similar conditions for four seasons in a pot just like in the plant's natral habitat, we can just do so, instead of diding out and replanting every year. I think for many business growers it's probablly just easier to store and sell them as bulbs, and maybe that's why they all do that. But some cultivars seem to have difficulties with reblooming when left in ground, such as, many tulips do not do as well on their own in their second year. So which type is tuberose? I don't really know. What I've read is Chinese people seem to make a big fuss about drying and storing the bulbs each year - they make a much bigger fuss about it than they do any other bubls, they "sun bake" them, hang them above a stove, etc, try best to keep the bulbs dry during winter, in order to have them rebloom nicely in following years. But with today's technology is it still necessary? I don't know. Maybe whatever the bulb needs can be conpensated by careful moisture control in soil, and better fertilizing in each following growing season. What you did to your bulbs seem to be very successful, and if you can keep it that way for two or more years, it will be a great news for us tuberose lovers! I'm interested in how it goes, please let me know :)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 7:25PM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

WOW Jason that pic is making me envious! :D

I think tuberoses might also need bigger pots.
I planted "mature" bulbs clumps from a mail order company that sells extra large bulbs and planted them in 1 gallons. Only got 1 flower stalk out of 6 different bulb clumps. And this year I transfered mine from 1 gallon to 3 gallon pots and I got 3 stalks. Still not great but better than the previous year where I got only 1. I suppose if planted in the ground and left undisturbed they will produce more flowers, but I'm not able to do that.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 1:40PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

deereyebrow, when I said you had done what I did with success I thought that was what you were saying you had done.

Leaving them in the pot and growing as a house plant all year is producing re-blooming results for me. I cannot imagine any plant that is tortured with being dried out will produce long term. I think you can force bulbs to bloom but it will not lead to long term positive results.

This is all just my opinion. LOL

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 10:22AM
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Here are pictures from my tuberose last year..
I bring the pots in in the Fall after they are killed by the frost. And then bring the pots outside in Spring.
They grow quickly. This year the bulbs are really really crowded and I just divided one pot into 10 smaller pots. I hope they will still bloom..

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 4:19PM
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