Tips for growing ornamental flowering tobacco. Buy Nicotiana sylvestris, alata, and Nicotiana x sanderae seeds and plants.
Nicotianas are annual plants native to South America related to smoking tobacco. There are several varieties you can grow. Ornamental tobacco is the most elegant of summer flowers.
Tray of cosmos and Nicotiana seedlings.
If you are starting Nicotiana plants from seed, start them early. Sow the seed indoors or in a cold frame at aproximately 65 degrees F. in March. Seeds will germinate in about 10 days and the plants will be ready to go into the garden by late May or the first week of June.
Be sure to wait until there is no danger of a late frost.
Harden them off before planting them out and space the 3-4 foot tall plants a foot apart in rich soil in sun or light shade. Keep the soil moist and feed the plants weekly during the growing season for strongest bloom.
Little trumpet-shaped blooms about an inch wide and long will begin to appear shortly after the Nicotiana seedlings are planted out. These fragrant delights will continue to perfume your garden with their jasmine aroma until the first frost.
The available colors include lime green, white, pink and red. White Nicotiana is the most fragrant.
There are day and night flowering tobacco varieties but any flowering tobacco plant will be most fragrant at night.
This is because these plants do not emit their sweet perfume to attract humans. They do it so that their insect pollinators (usually moths) can find them.
Place the plants around your porch or patio or beneath windows you open on summer evenings so that you, as well as the moths, can enjoy them.
One of the tallest Necotiana species, Indian Peace Pipe is perfect for the back of the border where its 5-7 foot flower stems will tower above shorter plants in front of it.
Be sure to stake the stately stems.
This white Necotiana seems to glow at dusk and is one of the best choices for lighting up dim corners. It also has its marvelous fragrance to recommend it. A delightful annual for the shade garden.
This flowering tobacco species grows to a height and width of nearly 40 inches, bears white flowers and is the most fragrant of all. It is commonly called jasmine tobacco.
The stems and large leaves are hairy.
Nicotiana Hummingbird is a dwarf modern hybrid which grows to a height and spread of 12 inches. In breeding these plants to be more compact, most of their fragrance has been sacrificed.
There are several cultivars in the Hummingbird series. The red-flowered plants will attract hummingbirds as the name suggests.
Space plants 10 inches apart and fertilize monthly.
Saratoga is another dwarf hybrid of Nicotiana alata. Same height and spread as Hummingbird. Same growing conditions.
Heaven Scent is fragrant as the name implies but, alas, only releases its perfume at night.
Plants grow to 3 feet tall in sun or shade. Bees and birds love the red, rose, purple or white blossoms. Space plants a foot and a half apart in well-prepared beds.
Sensation Mix Nicotiana grows to 2 feet tall in sunny or shaded garden beds. Its red, pink or white blooms are offset by fuzzy, glaucous leaves.
This is a coveted day-flowering variety which emits a sweet perfume both day and night.
The seeds need light to germinate so surface sow them on moist soil.
As the name mutabilis suggests, all the colors you see in the image above appear on the plant at the same time. Marshmallow Nicotiana, at 30 inches tall, is an annual plant well-suited to the middle of the bed.
Its soft colors and sweet scent will lend an air of romance to the summer garden.
Flowering tobacco is rarely bothered by insects or diseases.