Monday, August 4, 2008

Nicotiana--adding sweetness to your garden

I'm always curious and interested in different plants to add to my yard. I love the old standbys--my gladiolas are blooming beautifully right now--but I'm all about adding interest--and if the price is right, so much the better.

Last winter when we had first moved into this house and I was planning out my landscaping, I managed to get in on a few seed swaps and picked up a host of unusual seeds I had never heard of. One of my new favorites includes Nicotiana—also known as Flowering Tobacco.

Flowering Tobacco comes in whites, yellows, pinks and reds and grows to three or four feet tall. Depending on when you get the seeds in the ground, it starts blooming mid summer and keeps up a steady show until frost. It reseeds readily so my three plants last summer spread over a 4x6 foot area, and it came back with little assistance this year. All I had to do was loosen the soil so it could put down some roots and I got a new crop.

It has the most amazingly sweet scent. I sometimes sit out on my front porch in the dark at night--the only time it is cool enough to be outside at this time of year--and close my eyes, just to inhale the honey-sweet smell. It's like the best floral perfume. The blooms don't last long, but it puts off so many, you hardly notice. Humming birds really love the flowers too.

The plant can be propagated by dividing tubers or rhizomes, from herbaceous stem cuttings, or from seed. You can start the seeds indoors and then plant them out after all danger of frost is past, or plant them directly in the ground. My first plants were winter sewn and thrived. All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested. It requires medium watering--and it's thriving though my beds rarely get watered more than once a week.

Put this flower in full sun or partial shade, and don’t plant it too close to the walkways as it sometimes leans to one side.

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Tristi Pinkston said...

I've never heard of this plant -- how fun to learn something new!

Do you have a word count for me for the July BIAM?

Carroll said...

Reading your post makes me long for the kind of flower gardens I had in Minnesota. I moved to SE Arizona 5 years ago, and I'm still trying to figure out how to garden in this climate. Although I must say that the monsoon season has made all growing things look very happy!

For a look a my sister's pretty garden, visit our blog ( and scroll down to Writing and Weddings.

Heather Justesen said...

Thanks ladies. By the way, Carroll's site is crustyoldbroads, not crustyoldbroad--very different content. lol

Carroll said...


You're right, I misspelled my own blog address! A good reminder of how important it is to proofread even short communications.

Thanks for doing what it took to track us down! Here's the right address: