Nicotiana Growing Tips for Healthy, Long-Lasting Flowers

Image credit: Getty Images/Marina Demidiuk

Nicotiana, commonly known as flowering tobacco, is a prized ornamental plant for summer gardens. Native to Central and South America, these plants have been used for tobacco production for thousands of years. However, gardeners today grow nicotiana for its beautiful and long-lasting flowers rather than its tobacco leaves. Flowering from June to October, nicotiana plants are resilient and maintain garden interest even during the peak of summer.

Having grown various species and varieties, I appreciate nicotiana not for tobacco production but for its garden appeal. Nicotiana sylvestris, or woodland tobacco, with its fragrant white trumpet-like blooms, is particularly attractive to nocturnal moths. My favorite, however, is Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, which boasts lemon-lime blooms that are equally stunning in a vase or the garden. Here are three expert tips for growing and caring for nicotiana to ensure healthy plants and long-lasting flowers.

1. Provide the Right Growing Conditions

Nicotiana thrives in full sun and high humidity, mirroring the tropical climates of its native Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. In US hardiness zone 10 or above, you can grow nicotiana as perennials. In cooler zones, they are typically grown as annuals, blooming until the first frost. Plant nicotiana in well-drained soil and water regularly, especially during dry spells, to keep the soil consistently moist.

2. Deadhead Regularly to Extend Flowering

“Flowering tobacco plants are celebrated for their long-lasting blooms,” says Gail Pabst, gardening expert and Marketing Director for the National Garden Bureau. “Blooming from June until the first frost, these flowers are sure to impress.” Deadheading, or removing faded flowers, is essential for extending the bloom period. Whether in borders or containers, deadheading encourages more blooms.

To deadhead, carefully remove faded or browning flowers by hand, as seen in the image above. Once entire flower stems finish blooming, use small pruning snips to cut down to a leaf node. Deadheading every 2 to 3 days during spring and summer is recommended. This evening task is both calming and beneficial for maintaining flower production.

Avoid using large or heavy shears for deadheading; small pruning snips available at garden stores will suffice.

3. Watch for Pests and Diseases

While nicotiana is generally hardy, it can be susceptible to pests like aphids and whiteflies. Regularly inspect your plants and use organic insecticidal soap if necessary. Additionally, ensure good air circulation around the plants to prevent fungal diseases. Mulching can help retain soil moisture and reduce weed competition.

By following these expert tips, you can enjoy the vibrant and long-lasting blooms of nicotiana in your garden all summer long.

Re-reported from the article originally published in HOMES&GARDENS.

Nicotiana Growing Tips for Healthy, Long-Lasting Flowers

Image credit: Getty Images/Marina Demidiuk

Nicotiana, commonly known as flowering tobacco, is a prized ornamental plant for summer gardens. Native to Central and South America, these plants have been used for tobacco production for thousands of years. However, gardeners today grow nicotiana for its beautiful and long-lasting flowers rather than its tobacco leaves. Flowering from June to October, nicotiana plants are resilient and maintain garden interest even during the peak of summer.

Having grown various species and varieties, I appreciate nicotiana not for tobacco production but for its garden appeal. Nicotiana sylvestris, or woodland tobacco, with its fragrant white trumpet-like blooms, is particularly attractive to nocturnal moths. My favorite, however, is Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, which boasts lemon-lime blooms that are equally stunning in a vase or the garden. Here are three expert tips for growing and caring for nicotiana to ensure healthy plants and long-lasting flowers.

1. Provide the Right Growing Conditions

Nicotiana thrives in full sun and high humidity, mirroring the tropical climates of its native Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina. In US hardiness zone 10 or above, you can grow nicotiana as perennials. In cooler zones, they are typically grown as annuals, blooming until the first frost. Plant nicotiana in well-drained soil and water regularly, especially during dry spells, to keep the soil consistently moist.

2. Deadhead Regularly to Extend Flowering

“Flowering tobacco plants are celebrated for their long-lasting blooms,” says Gail Pabst, gardening expert and Marketing Director for the National Garden Bureau. “Blooming from June until the first frost, these flowers are sure to impress.” Deadheading, or removing faded flowers, is essential for extending the bloom period. Whether in borders or containers, deadheading encourages more blooms.

To deadhead, carefully remove faded or browning flowers by hand, as seen in the image above. Once entire flower stems finish blooming, use small pruning snips to cut down to a leaf node. Deadheading every 2 to 3 days during spring and summer is recommended. This evening task is both calming and beneficial for maintaining flower production.

Avoid using large or heavy shears for deadheading; small pruning snips available at garden stores will suffice.

3. Watch for Pests and Diseases

While nicotiana is generally hardy, it can be susceptible to pests like aphids and whiteflies. Regularly inspect your plants and use organic insecticidal soap if necessary. Additionally, ensure good air circulation around the plants to prevent fungal diseases. Mulching can help retain soil moisture and reduce weed competition.

By following these expert tips, you can enjoy the vibrant and long-lasting blooms of nicotiana in your garden all summer long.

Re-reported from the article originally published in HOMES&GARDENS.