Smoking tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum came from the New World and circled out to cultures around the globe. Flowering Tobacco, the cousin of leaf tobacco, is a charming heirloom flower experiencing a Renaissance with gardeners lately. The best part about this ornamental is that it fills the summer garden with large, brightly colored trumpets of star-shaped flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Many hybrids offer smaller, more compact plants with abundant flowers that bloom throughout the summer.
I also grow Nicotiana sylvestris for its statuesque presence and sweet aroma. It makes a bold statement in my flower borders and frequently comes back as a volunteer. The plant is very fragrant with tubular-shaped, white flowers that dance on 30″ – 36″ tall branched stems during the summer.
Another one to try is Nicotiana langsdorfii because it too grows to an impressive height and I love the waxy, lime green blooms. A third species that I just discovered is Nicotiana x hybrida ‘Tinkerbell’. It is similar in appearance to N. langsdorfii but produces lime green and rose flowers with amazing azure blue pollen.
Try Planting an Evening Garden
I enjoy Nicotiana alata for its strong, jasmine like fragrance at night. Introduced into garden cultivation in the United States and England in the early 1800’s Nicotiana alata was prized for its white, highly scented night-blooming flowers. In Victorian times, Nicotiana sylvestris was intentionally planted along walkways and paths so that those strolling by could enjoy the sweet fragrance of the flowers.
A noted garden writer of the early 20th century Louise Beebe Wilder describes Nicotiana alata as a “poor figure by day … but with the coming of the night the long creamy tubes freshen and expand and give forth their rich perfume and we are then glad we have so much of it…”
I have to agree, I’m a huge fan of all of the Flowering Tobaccos!