With over 60 species to choose from, nicotiana has lots of uses in the garden. Also known as flowering tobacco, nicotiana naturalizes readily and looks great in a woodland setting. Use taller varieties in the back of the border or as specimen plants. Smaller species work well in borders or containers.
Nicotiana sylvestris (also called tobacco plant)
Tender perennial, usually grown as an annual, grown for white flowers which are scented at night. Attractive to night insects such as moths.
Season of interest
Flowers from July to September.
Keep soil moist and feed every two weeks in growing season. Has a tendency to droop in midday heat if planted in full sun. May survive very mild winters.
Popular with slugs and snails.
Sow seed in March-April at around 18°C and plant out when frosts are over. May self-seed in mild years.
Key horticultural features
- Habit – upright, sometimes slightly leaning.
- Stems – round, slightly hairy and sticky.
- Leaves – large, oval, mid-green, slightly sticky.
- Flowers – flared trumpet-shaped white flowers hang in clusters from the top of the stem. Sweetly scented at night.
Sun to shade, prefers dappled shade.
Fertile, moist, well-drained.There are lots of dwarf Nicotiana on the market, in a variety of colors, but tall, white-flowers Nicotiana sylvestris is still an attraction. Nicotiana sylvestris grows about 5' tall and supposedly gives off a perfumed scent in the evenings, when its flowers face upward. I’ve never seen that happen. But I still grow it for the dangling white tubular flowers that grow in clusters and jingle in the breeze.