Ask Ella: On The Incredible Smell of Tuberose
Ask Ella is a recurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight tuberose, a flower with one of the most intoxicating scents on the market.
Tuberose is hands down one of the most incredible smelling flowers you’re likely to encounter at your local florist. They have a heady, sweet scent– reminiscent of but far more potent than jasmine (a longtime floral favorite) or gardenia (a known olfactory crowd-pleaser).
Tuberose is like the femme fatale of the flower world: so beautiful and alluring it’s dangerous.
This makes them impossible to put down. We’re not exaggerating, either; the Victorians found the smell so seductive that they forbade young women from inhaling it, for fear it would cause spontaneous orgasms. Percy Shelley once waxed poetic thought it was “the sweetest flower for scent that blows” and many perfumes that feature its scent focus on its provocative reputation (Fracas, meaning disorder, or Carnal Flower). Tuberose is like the femme fatale of the flower world: so beautiful and alluring it’s dangerous.
In spite of their power over humans, tuberoses are themselves very fragile, and their stems often bend with the weight of the buds. Support them by adding other sturdy, tall flowers (like stock flower) or try giving them a vase with a tight lip. We love the way they look here in our signature Wilcoxson vessels. Recut the stems every other day and keep them in cool water, out of the sun. To take advantage of their scent, keep Tuberose in a well-enclosed space– they’ll easily and quickly perfume it.