You don’t have to be a smoker to enjoy nicotiana or tobacco flowers. While nicotiana tabacum is grown for the production of smoking tobacco, there are many Nicotiana species that are beloved by gardeners for their beautiful and fragrant flowers.
Nicotiana or Flowering Tobacco is a genus of 67 plants native to Australia, North America and tropical South America that produces pleasantly fragrant tubular flowers in shades of white, red, yellow, pink, maroon and lavender. The foliage is hairy and can sometimes irritate skin. Flowers will bloom from June until October. Most nicotianas are tall plants, reaching over 10 feet tall, but there are also dwarf varieties available.
Many nicotiana varieties bloom in the evening, releasing their intoxicating scent. The most fragrant variety is the white Nicotiana alata. Not only does it smell lovely, the flowers seem to glow in the moonlight! It’s quite the sight.
Nicotiana plants are a wonderful addition to any garden, adding colour, fragrance and height to the landscape. These colourful annual flowers are known to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Plus, the blooms are long-lasting, easy to grow from seed, and low maintenance.
They would be ideal for woodland gardens. Grow in full sun or partial shade in fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Plant in masses for the most impact. Shorter varieties would be ideal for containers, while taller varieties would look attractive as borders. Don’t forget to stake taller plants to provide protection from strong winds. Deadhead to encourage new blooms. And last but not least, nicotianas could reseed, producing more flowers for the next year.
If you do plan on growing flowering tobacco, be sure to keep plants away from young children and pets, as they are toxic when ingested.