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The sniffing bulbs: plant now for summer fragrance.

Sniff the flowers of a tuberose or an acidanthera, and a potent fragrance greets you. Grow these bulbous plants in your garden, and they will fill the summer air with their perfume.

Tuberoses (Polianthes tuberosa), which are slowly regaining the popularity they had in the Victorian era, have the stronger fragrance--a bit like the gardenia's--but are somewhat gawky when surrounded with low-growing plants (small flowers cluster atop a straight stalk). Acidantheras (Gladiolus callianthus, sometimes sold as peacock orchids) look graceful, with delicate flared blossoms on gently arching stalks. Both make long-lasting cut flowers. This month, look for bulbs in nurseries or order from a catalog.

Tuberose. To bloom, this plant needs at least four months of temperatures above 65 [deg.] Place tubers 1 to 2 inches deep in slightly acid, fast-draining soil. In foggy areas, put them where they'll get full sun are reflected heat; inland and in the desert, provide light shade from hottest sun. In cold regions, plant tubers indoors in pots and move them out after last frost. Water well at planting and regularly after green shoots appear. After leaves appear, feed monthly with a complete fertilizer.

Don't expect tuberoses, even those plated at the same time, to bloom all at once. For a massed effect in containers, plant them singly in gallon cans, then place the ones with the best bloom in a large straight-sided pot, covering can tops with sphagnum moss.

In cold climates, dig up and store tubers in a warm, dry place after tops brown. Because bloom can be chancy the second year--especially in climates like Hawaii's, where soil stays warm--gardeners treat tuberoses as annuals, planting fresh tubers each year.

Acidanthera. Plant corms 4 inches deep and 4 inches apart in rich, fast-draining soil in full sun. In cold-winter areas, start corms indoors and plant them outdoors after last frost.

After leaves emerge and again a month later, apply a complete fertilizer at least 6 inches from plants; water in thoroughly. Water regularly during growing season.

When leaves being to yellow in fall, gradually reduce water. In coldest areas, dig corms to store indoors over winter.

Propagate from cormels (small corms) that develop around the corms' bases.
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Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jan 1, 1986
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