Flowering Tobacco – Nicotiana

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Nicotiana, also known as flowering tobacco, is a type of annual flower that is bred for its decorative value and is related to commercial tobacco plants.

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The tall flowering stems of Nicotiana are covered with many star-shaped flowers of different colors like white, pink, maroon, lavender, green, red, and yellow. The plant can grow up to three feet tall, but shorter and dwarf varieties are also available.

How to grow: Nicotiana prefers fertile, humus-rich, moist, well-drained soil and can grow in partial shade or full sun in cooler areas. These plants are hardy and can tolerate high temperatures. Transplant them to the garden after all frost danger has passed, spacing them 8 to 12 inches apart.

Propagation: You can sow Nicotiana seeds in their permanent location by thinning seedlings to the appropriate spacing. Alternatively, you can start them indoors six to eight weeks before planting. Seeds germinate in 10 to 20 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s important to avoid covering them as they require light to germinate.

Uses: Nicotiana is a great choice for adding height to beds and borders. Plant them in clusters for a more impactful display, and avoid planting them in dusty areas.

Scientific name: Nicotiana alata grandiflora

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1. What is Nicotiana?

Nicotiana is a genus of flowering plants that belong to the nightshade family. It includes around 70 species of annuals, biennials, and perennials that are native to the Americas, Australia, and the South Pacific. The plants are known for their fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in shades of white, pink, red, yellow, and green.

2. Is Nicotiana related to tobacco?

Yes, Nicotiana is closely related to tobacco. In fact, the genus includes the species Nicotiana tabacum, which is the primary source of commercial tobacco. Other species of Nicotiana also contain nicotine, which is a stimulant and can be used for medicinal purposes.

3. How do you grow Nicotiana?

Nicotiana can be grown from seeds or cuttings in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. The plants prefer full sun to partial shade and moderate moisture. They can be grown in pots or in the ground and should be fertilized regularly. Deadheading spent flowers can encourage more blooms.

4. What pests and diseases affect Nicotiana?

Nicotiana can be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. It can also be affected by fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and tobacco mosaic virus. Proper watering and fertilization can help prevent some of these issues, and using insecticidal soap or neem oil can help control pests.

5. Can Nicotiana be used for smoking?

While some species of Nicotiana contain nicotine and have been used traditionally for smoking and chewing, it is not recommended to smoke or consume Nicotiana as it can be toxic and potentially harmful. It is best enjoyed as an ornamental plant in the garden.

6. Can Nicotiana attract pollinators?

Yes, Nicotiana is known for attracting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds with its fragrant blooms. The plants are also a favorite of moths and can be grown specifically to attract them.

7. How long does Nicotiana bloom?

Nicotiana typically blooms from mid-summer to fall, with some species blooming earlier or later depending on the climate and location. Deadheading spent flowers can encourage more blooms and extend the flowering season.

8. Where can I buy Nicotiana plants?

Nicotiana plants can be purchased at nurseries and garden centers, as well as online. Some popular varieties include Nicotiana alata, Nicotiana sylvestris, and Nicotiana mutabilis.

9. Can Nicotiana be used in floral arrangements?

Yes, Nicotiana can be used in floral arrangements for its fragrant blooms and long stems. It pairs well with other garden flowers such as roses, dahlias, and zinnias.

10. How tall do Nicotiana plants grow?

The height of Nicotiana plants can vary depending on the species and variety. Some species, such as Nicotiana sylvestris, can grow up to 6 feet tall, while others, such as Nicotiana alata, are more compact and reach a height of around 2-3 feet.

11. What are some common varieties of Nicotiana?

Some common varieties of Nicotiana include Nicotiana alata (also known as flowering tobacco), Nicotiana sylvestris (also known as woodland tobacco), and Nicotiana mutabilis (also known as flowering tobacco or jasmine tobacco). These and other varieties come in a range of colors and sizes and can be grown for their ornamental value in the garden.

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