Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Single Mexican Tuberose, Rajanigandha, Sedap Malam
Polianthes tuberosa

Family: Agavaceae (ah-gav-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Polianthes (pol-ee-AN-theez) (Info)
Species: tuberosa (too-ber-OH-suh) (Info)

7 vendors have this plant for sale.

22 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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21 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive brendak654 On Oct 6, 2013, brendak654 from Anna, IL (Zone 6b) wrote:

Tuberose bulbs are one of my first spring plantings about April 15th. I bring them out from downstairs where they have rested over winter. I plant them in a row in the garden where they will receive full sun and some cultivation. The bulbs grow in clumps and before planting, if the clump is larger than my small fist, I bust the clump in half before planting. They bloom for me in August and their wonderful fragrance permeates the air about dusk and they make an outstanding cut flower. Even cut - their fragrance permeates the air just before dark. Loved by florists. I have not had luck wintering them over in the ground, so by first of October when the ground is good and dry, I mow them off with the lawn mower and lift them, shake off the dirt and place into a tall airy basket (basket with holes - laundry basket). I keep them dry - outside/in the garage for a couple weeks and shuffle them a couple different times from one basket to another to aid in drying before taking in to store over winter. The bulbs multiply quickly from year to year. Mine, I consider, an heirloom from my grandmother.

Positive TexasGeek On Mar 21, 2012, TexasGeek from Irving, TX wrote:

I purchased a half dozen clumps late last spring on eBay and they grew wonderfully here. Tuberose have such a wonderful scent and make wonderful cut flowers as they slowly open up. They are now in my top 5 plants as for as scents go. The bulbs have overwintered just fine in Dallas and are already popping up this spring.

Positive Crit On Aug 1, 2010, Crit from Sand Springs (Tulsa), OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

I bought the bulbs to this plant in April at a street fair here. I planted some in a large (14-16" pot) right away and about a month later some more in the ground. The ones in the pot came up and folage did very well, however has not put up even one bloom. (It is now August 1) The ones in the ground have put up several shoots of blooms. Anyone have any input as to why on that? They both are in morning shade, afternoon sun, about 20 feet apart.
The fragrence on these are fabulous. My first sniff reminded me of one of my favorite flowers, the gardenia. I absolutely LOVE these flowers and have them planted at the edge of my deck. I wanted the ones in the pot on the patio so the fragrence I had been told about would be close to where we set. I'm real disappointed it hasn't bloomed.
I would appreciate any input on these. I'm not sure of my growing area, I think it is either 6b or 7a.

Positive ladybug_pc On Feb 28, 2010, ladybug_pc from Mcdonough, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Tuberose has a wonderful fragrance. It blooms mid to late summer and the fragrance is more intense at night. I plant my bulbs in large pots and lift them each fall after the first frost kills back the foliage. I let them dry for a month to six weeks and then I store them in brown paper lunch bags. Last year my clumps grew quite large, and I separated some and planted them in the flower bed. We will see if they are able to handle the winter. This is a wonderful "old time" favorite (my grandmother grew tuberose), and it's well worth lifting and storing.

Positive clanross On Jan 20, 2010, clanross from Poplarville, MS (Zone 8b) wrote:

I am in zone 8b (southern Mississippi) and I planted my single tuberoses in a mulched flowerbed last spring. They were beautiful. Neighbors walking by on the sidewalk in the evening knocked on the door to ask me about the plant they smelled. The soil in the bed in very good and my tuberoses seem to have multiplied (from the number of grassy stems) but I won't know for sure until I dig them up. I watered in driest summer as they are next to roses and hydrangeas. Seemed very easy and should be hardy as I ordered them from "Tennessee Tuberoses". Can't wait to see them again this summer. Like Gardenias on a stick.

Positive MavisFlowers On Jun 3, 2009, MavisFlowers from Lufkin, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Lovely plant with delicate blooms on tall pillar-like stems with attractive clumps of foliage at base. Remarkably strong fragrance which perfumes the air around the plant making it ideal near a patio, porch or doorway. I have these at my main home and at my country cottage and they are a wonderful old-fashioned addition which attract much notice in your garden beds. Recommended!

Positive htop On Feb 7, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Polianthes tuberosa has had its name changed to Agave polianthes (other synonyms: Polianthes tubulata, Polianthes gracilis). Tuberoses are still popular in Mexican gardens. They have been grown commercially for bulb distributors and florists in the San Antonio area for many years. In Zones 9 and 11, the elongated tubers may be left in the ground all year. In other zones, it is best to dig them up and store the tubers like gladiolus. Mid-spring is the best time to plant the tubers. I have read that once a tuber blooms that it does not bloom again. In other words, only new tubers bloom.

Positive kman_blue On Nov 13, 2006, kman_blue from (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant has a very nice unique fragrance, which makes it worth growing even in pots in colder climates.

Also, every credible reference(Missouri Botanical Gardens, Kew Gardens, Encyclopedia Britannica, UC Davis, National Parks Board of Singapore, University Of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India, etc., etc.) says it is originally native to Mexico and considering that every known species of Polianthes(about 12 or 13) is native to Mexico and NONE are native to the old world anywhere, and that every member of the closely related Manfreda genus(Some have even been hybridized with Polianthes tuberosa!) is native to North American also. I would say it's highly unlikely to be native anywhere else but Mexico. It was introduced into Western cultivation in 1530 and probably introduced to Asia soon afterwards by Europeans, much like Peanuts(Arachis hypogaea) were.

Positive OldHouseGardens On Jul 24, 2006, OldHouseGardens from Ann Arbor, MI wrote:

I've grown tuberoses in pots here in zone-5/6 Michigan for years and absolutely love them -- as gardeners have for centuries. Not only were they grown by the Aztecs and in colonial America, but they were so popular in Victorian times that in 1893 a New York author claimed that "everyone who has a garden knows the Tuberose." I hope FlamingViolet will respond here, though, with some documentation about their origin. Every reference book I have consulted -- including the New RHS Dictionary of Gardening which is widely considerd the most up-to-date and authoritative encyclopedia of garden plants in English -- state that it is native to Mexico. So I'd like to learn more about the possibility that it originated elsewhere.

Positive nick89 On May 13, 2005, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Attractive plant. The flowers are very fragrant and stand up to the intense summer heat better than those of the double variety.

Positive franksabo On Feb 11, 2005, franksabo from Brentwood, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

In victorian times the tuberosa was a very popular conservatory plant, however it tends to grow and blossom in the warmer climates in the USA. The tuberosa needs a long growing period inorder to blossom in early to late fall.

A soiless compost is recommended. do not water till leaves appear then water freely. Planting time is around March the depth of bulb is about one inch and the spacing is one bulb in a five inchpot.

Positive flamingviolet On Aug 1, 2004, flamingviolet from Fremont, OH wrote:

as a botanist,i must say...
contrary to what you think about polianthes tuberosa being aboriginal to mexico, it is actually native to the phillipine and malaysian islands.
it was first known to have been brought to the new world by means of wayward fisherman and explorers.
it was traded by western asians to the european cultures as a highly prized and valuable bulb.
in singapore it is called xinxiao which means "that on which the moth rests."
depictions of the plant on temple walls date back to the time before the building of the great wall, when no known trade had been established between the european community and the new world.

Positive azar464 On Jul 21, 2004, azar464 from Cleveland, TN wrote:

I grow these in southeast Tennessee. They take about two years to start blooming. This region is in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6A. So far I have had no problems, though for the last 2 years we have not had a particularly cold winter.The fragrance of the flowers is worth a little extra trouble.

Positive mlathi On Jul 3, 2004, mlathi from Den Haag
Netherlands wrote:


This is Mlathi, RoyJava, born in Indonesia.
The Polianthes tuberosa we do know as the Sedep Malam and belongs to the Javanese Goddess Of The Southern Ocean, has been told.
Because of the strong smell, and the beautifull form, as well the very special time of flowering (after 18.00 o'clock the smell will be at her best) the Javanese people dedicated this flower to the female Divine.
The Javanese do eat this plant and several recepts are wellknown ... thanks for let me add some to this very special flower.
Greetzzz RoyJava

Positive Tuberoselover On Sep 22, 2003, Tuberoselover from Stockton, CA wrote:

I have never smelled anything so romantic or captivating! The history of this flower also includes that when you arrive in Hawaii, the tuberose is used in the leis because of their wonderful scent and beauty. This flower is also used in many Hawaiian wedding ceremonies. This is my first year with this plant.

Positive berrygirl On Aug 25, 2003, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

This was my first year growing this plant and I love it. It's growing in a wine barrel in full sun and the record rains we've had didn't seem to faze it. It fragrances my whole backyard; will definitely be getting more to grow next year!

Neutral suncatcheracres On Aug 24, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

My plants are about six years old, and have only bloomed twice. But after reading all of the above I see what I may have been doing wrong. The first year I planted bulbs in a pot and had the pot on a sunny deck by the front door in Middle Georgia and they did wonderfully. My plants are "The Pearl" and I thought I had large flowers and very sweet fragrance.

The next year they went into the ground near Atlanta (zone 7b) and bloomed sporatically, but survived 6F degrees and snow for several winters. But after the first summer they never bloomed again.

Last year they were back in a pot in part shade in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, and then were planted in a raised bed in part shade--I have almost no full sun here. This summer they came up strong and green, and have survived our record rainfall, but again didn't bloom.

I see I have to move them again, and probably divide them, and put them in a sunnier location. I think I will try to find some bulbs of the single variety, too. And yes I've also read that this plant is only known in cultivation, not in the wild, like some of the gingers. People and plants go back a long, long way in time.

Positive PurplePansies On Aug 23, 2003, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

I can't say enough good things about this plant. The scent is intoxicating, (especially at night), and the pretty, waxy white flowers lend a tropical note to the garden. Care is not that hard, but plant is of course, tropical to semi-tropical. In areas where winters are colder, store for the winter. I do this by letting the tuberose stay out all fall. Before frost comes, place the whole pot in a cool garage, basement, porch, breezeway etc. They like the cool, winter rest. Don't put anywhere where temperatures drop below the thirties. I don't dig them because I don't think they like the disturbance. Given these tips, you should have good tuberoses for years to come. P.S. divide or separate tubroses when they become crowded and make sure soil is good, enrich soil in pot with compost, leaves, etc. and do so every season.

Positive bikram On Jun 26, 2003, bikram wrote:

Rajanigandha or Tuberose (in English) means "The Fragrance of the Night" in Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi...

The Flowers of this plant blossom in the night and should you happen to pass by this plant in the night you will be engulfed by its sweet smell.

The sweet smell is also there in the morning. However that is the time when it is used less.

It is a unique flower - possibly the one which is used in every spehere of the Indian - Hindu life.

The flowers are also used to make the garland which is used during the marriage ceremony.

The flower has been used for centuries in India to adorn the Woman. To adorn her neck as a garland, her ears as the ear rings her limbs as bangles.

It is also used by the men when they would go out romancing and they would usually hold a small garland in their hands as a sign of an appreciator of beauty.

It is also used to make a small boquet which may be presented by people when they visit each other...

Most aply therefore these are the same flowers that are used to create a wreath for the departed soul.

Positive Ispahan On Apr 14, 2003, Ispahan from Chicago, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

While this plant is indeed commonly cultivated in Mxico, it is never called "azahar" (which is the word used for citrus blossoms, especially orange blossoms), but rather "nardo" or "azucena" (azucena being the generic term for any white, lily-like flower). The tuberose was already entirely domesticated by the indigenous civilizations of Mexico at the time of the Spanish conquest, and forms of Polianthes tuberosa growing in the wild have never been discovered or seen.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about this plant, so be wary of your sources. Basically, it needs warmth, sunshine, well-drained soil, even moisture (don't overwater but don't let it get bone dry either!), and at least a month and a half of good growing AFTER it is done flowering if you want the tubers to produce flowers the next growing season. That is where most northern growers fail with them, since they tend to bloom rather late in the season anyway. In any case and no matter what the climate, they are enchanting when grown in LARGE pots (perhaps three roots to a 10" or 12" pot) that provide ample room for the vigorous root systems and allow for sufficient expansion of the tubers. Since plants grown in pots tend to be warmer than those grown in the ground, they often bloom a few weeks earlier as well. When grown correctly, the tubers multiply at an astonishingly fast rate and you will have an ample supply to provide blooms from year to year. Oh!, and they must be divided AT LEAST every three or four years, otherwise the blooms will fizzle out.

I prefer the single "Mexican" tuberoses over the double ones called "The Pearl." The doubles can't hold a candle to the singles for elegance, intensity of fragrance or ease of cultivation (in my experience, the doubles tend to be a bit fussy).

Positive Lavanda On Apr 3, 2003, Lavanda from Mcallen, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

This romantic flower comes in both single-flowered and double-flowered versions.

These are very commonly grown in Mexico in warm patios in pots. The unique scent is wonderful, and is most enjoyed when it is warm to hot, even at night time.

I have brought cut stems inside to air conditioning and they seemed to lose most or all of the fragrance.

It is called azahar (azar) in spanish, but the word comes from Arabic, so they probably originated in the Arab world.

This is a very traditional flower to use in wedding bouquets in Mexico.

Positive grdnmuse On Mar 18, 2003, grdnmuse wrote:

I love the fragrance and have one blooming right now on my sunny, south facing porch at Point Fermin CA(near San Pedro)! It seems a bit distressed, however, and I am experimenting with acidity and watering needs. Less water seems better, and a loamy soil may also help. I'll keep you posted. If anyone has input, please advise.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

New Market, Alabama
Show Low, Arizona
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Kennedy, California
Lindsay, California
Rumsey, California
Sacramento, California (2 reports)
Havana, Florida
Miami, Florida
Old Town, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Barnesville, Georgia
Braselton, Georgia
Mcdonough, Georgia
Honolulu, Hawaii
Anna, Illinois
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
Independence, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Slidell, Louisiana
Moss Point, Mississippi
Poplarville, Mississippi
Denville, New Jersey
Bronx, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Lake Toxaway, North Carolina
Sand Springs, Oklahoma
Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Exton, Pennsylvania
Florence, South Carolina
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Seymour, Tennessee (2 reports)
Apple Springs, Texas
Irving, Texas
Lufkin, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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