Nicotiana -best of the summer annuals

Pronounced:  Nic- O- ti- ana-

Tobacco plant is one of my top 5 favorite annuals and there are just so many reasons why I think this plant should be in more gardens! Single handedly this plant keeps my whole garden going in late August into September. When all other plants have lost their luster it is the one that soldiers on renewing itself time and again.  I used to be part of a seed club and together we would approach local nurseries to grow some of the more interesting annuals. Nicotianas were at the top of that list.  This is one of those annuals that once you buy and plant them for a couple of years, you will never have to buy them again because they self seed in profusion! I am always amazed to see how quickly this plant grows once the weather heats up. I have seen them jump from 3-4” inches to 3-4’ feet tall in just a few weeks. I have one area in my border along a gravel path where hundreds of plants come up each year. This area supplies more than enough plants to fill the gaps in the borders and to give a few to friends.

I have planted Nicotianas in areas where I can walk by them in the evening because that’s when the plants incredible perfume hangs over the garden. Because the flowers exude their heavenly scent after the sun has gone down it is the night moths who pollinate their exotically perfumed flowers.

There are several varieties worth growing. Nicotiana alata “Fragrant Cloud” 30” tall has large white blooms on stems and the foliage forms nice rosettes. N. alata. “Lime Green” is one of my favorites. I love flowers that are green- can’t get enough of them. N. langsdorfii 36” tall, has large open clusters of miniature green dangling bell- shaped flowers. Langsdorfii has more subtle delicate flowers and adds an interesting texture to the garden. Nicotiana sylestris, 36” tall has fragrant white trumpet- shaped blooms and large velvety leaves. It’s the most architectural of the Nicotianas. There are several colorful varieties including Perfume Bright Rose, Perfume Deep Purple, but I am not a fan of these. I prefer the chartreuse and white varieties.  Once you introduce this plant into your garden you will never be short of fragrant flowers from July through to late fall!

Nicotiana growing in the border

Nicotiana Sylvestris

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4 Responses to Nicotiana -best of the summer annuals

  1. Marlys Hann says:

    Don…
    I LOVE your garden, your whole site, your blog, your website, your writings!!! Can I come over and get a few Nicotiana plants?

    • Don Statham says:

      Hi Marlys,
      Thanks for your kind words. The best time to transplant the Nicotiana is in early June. They would not transplant now at this stage. If you get them in the ground while their small, your sure to get plenty of seed in the fall.
      Let me know next June or I can also try & save you some seed this autumn.
      Best, Don

  2. Deirdre Larkin says:

    Hi, Don—Your N. sylvestris look great. I planted out 4 or 5 kinds of Nicotiana in my front garden for a few years, as you know; they did indeed self-sow fairly freely, but the self-sown ones never acame close to attaining the same size as the ones I set out as starts. I don’t have any now, and miss them, as do the hummingbirds. On the other hand, some really beautiful clear pink hollyhocks have self-sown at my place. I suspect the source is a good four miles away!

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