How to Grow Nicotiana

Posted by Jessica Mcnamara on

Nicotiana, commonly known as flowering tobacco, is a delightful addition to any garden, known for its sweet fragrance and vibrant blooms. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, growing Nicotiana can be a rewarding experience. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about planting, caring for, and enjoying Nicotiana in your garden.

What is Nicotiana?

Nicotiana is a genus of herbaceous plants and shrubs that belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae. While some species are cultivated for their tobacco leaves, many are grown for their ornamental value. The flowers, which come in a variety of colours including white, pink, red, and green, are particularly noted for their evening fragrance.

Why Grow Nicotiana in Your Garden?

Fragrance: Nicotiana flowers release a sweet scent, especially in the evening, making them perfect for night gardens.

Attractive Blooms: These flowers add a splash of colour and can brighten up any garden space.

Wildlife Friendly: Nicotiana attracts pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Choosing the Right Variety of Nicotiana

There are several varieties of Nicotiana to choose from, each with its unique charm. Some popular varieties include:

  • Nicotiana alata: Known for its large, trumpet-shaped flowers.

  • Nicotiana sylvestris: Tall with cascading white blooms.

  • Nicotiana langsdorffii: Features small, greenish-yellow flowers.

How to Plant Nicotiana

Preparing the Soil

Nicotiana thrives in well-drained, fertile soil. Here’s how to prepare your garden bed:

  1. Select a spot that receives full sun to partial shade.

  2. Work the soil to a depth of 15-20 cm, removing any weeds and stones. Incorporate organic matter such as compost to enhance soil fertility.

Sowing Seeds

Nicotiana can be grown from seeds. Follow these steps for successful germination:

Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date. Scatter the seeds on the surface of a seed tray filled with moist seed compost. Do not cover the seeds, as they need light to germinate.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle and the risk of frost has passed, transplant them into the garden, spacing them 30-45 cm apart.

Caring for Nicotiana Plants


Nicotiana prefers consistent moisture, especially during dry periods. Water the plants regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.


Feed Nicotiana with a balanced, water-soluble fertiliser every two to three weeks during the growing season to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms.

Deadheading and Pruning

To encourage continuous flowering, regularly remove spent blooms (deadheading). This not only keeps the plant looking tidy but also redirects energy into producing more flowers.

Pest and Disease Management

Nicotiana is generally resistant to pests and diseases but can occasionally be affected by aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to manage infestations. Ensure good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases like powdery mildew.

Harvesting and Enjoying Nicotiana

You can enjoy Nicotiana flowers in your garden throughout the summer and into early autumn. Their delightful fragrance makes them perfect for planting near patios, walkways, and windows. Additionally, Nicotiana flowers can be cut and used in floral arrangements to bring their beauty and scent indoors.

Growing Nicotiana is a simple yet rewarding gardening project. With their beautiful blooms and enchanting fragrance, Nicotiana plants can transform your garden into a fragrant haven. By following this guide, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating healthy, vibrant Nicotiana plants that will delight both you and your garden visitors.

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