winter care for Polianthes

Leo A. Martin
Mon, 26 Oct 2009 09:42:43 PDT
Dennis asked about overwintering Polianthes tuberosa.

I fortunately can grow these wonderfully-fragrant plants outside. Most
years our light frost kills the tops, but every 10 years or so frost kills
the bulbs. So now I grow them outside with protection - in a large pot
near the house, so I can move the pot close to the house when frost

I agree with everything Dell says. I know most people overwinter them dry,
allowing the leaves to die off. But, like all Agavaceae, the plant is
actually an evergreen where climate permits. My impression has been that
they grow and flower better if they keep their leaves, so I now water all
year. This would be harder in a freezing climate but, if light be
available, it might be worthwhile overwintering in a window or greenhouse
and keeping them going. Spider mites would probably be a winter problem,
as with most soft-leaved Agavaceae.

I echo the notion of dividing regularly.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

Dennis wrote
> I bought several Polianthes this season which are growing in pots
> outdoors.  We had our first freeze last night, but they seem to be okay.
> When I do finally bring them indoors is there any particular care
> they need?  Do I unpot them and store in the cool dry basement?  Do I set
> them on a warm windowsill and continue providing water?

Dell replied
> I leave mine in their pots and do not water them through winter in my
> cool greenhouse (min 35-40 F). They bloom well until they become crowded,
> and need a lot of water in the summer.
> But the best flowering came when I planted them out in the garden, fed
> and watered them regularly, and dug them up after a frost, dried them off
> and stored them in dry peat moss, and planted them out in early summer.
> When
> they are crowded, they split into pieces that are too small to bloom, so
> it is best to keep them in clumps separated from their neighbors by at
> least a foot.
> P. tuberosa has one of my favorite flower fragrances. I grow it for that
> alone.

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