How to Grow Nicotiana
Nicotiana, also known as the tobacco plant, is a popular summer flower with trumpet-like flowers in a range of colours. Some varieties have night-scented blooms, so they’re lovely planted around a seating area, and they come in a range of heights – some with towering stems ideal for the back of a border and others that are more compact, making them suitable for container growing.
Sow nicotiana seed in early spring in pots or seed trays and place on a sunny windowsill or on a heated propagator. When they have two sets of leaves prick them out and pot them up into individual containers. Plant them out into the garden when the danger of frost has passed in early summer – you’ll need to make sure the plants are hardened off, so gradually acclimatise them to the outdoors for ten days or so beforehand.
You can collect the seeds of nicotiana in late summer and early autumn and store them in paper bags, then sow them the following spring, but don’t expect to get exactly the same plants, as the flowers may have been cross-pollinated.
If you don’t have space to grow nicotiana from seed, keep a look out for young plants at the garden centre in late spring.
Protect young plants from slugs and snails, and keep the plants well-watered, especially during periods of dry weather, as they can be prone to mildew. Direct water to the base of the plants and try to avoid wetting the leaves as this can encourage fungal diseases to take hold.
Nicotiana sylvestris is a magnificent summer plant, with tall (1.5m) stems each topped with a cluster of long, white, trumpet-like blooms which have a strong perfume.
Nicotiana ‘Alata Lime Green’ is a compact plant with pale green flowers that give off a sweet scent on an evening. It’s a good choice for edging a border or growing in a container.
Nicotiana x hybrida ‘Whisper Mixed’ has silvery-green foliage and tall stems with flowers in white and shades of pastel pink. Plant several in a large zinc bath for a dramatic display.
Lotte Bjarke is trained as a horticulturist, she lives in Jylland, Denmark where she has a garden of 53,819 square feet, including two greenhouses. In the garden, she has one homemade greenhouse, where she grows olive, passionflower and lilies of the Nile. Besides her blog, she writes articles about the garden and greenhouse.
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