How to plant and grow flowering tobacco

How to plant and grow flowering tobacco

Flowering tobacco plants have long been highly prized in home and garden gardens for their strongly scented flowers. A relative of true tobacco, flowering tobacco plants are grown for their flowers. Perennial in zones 10-11, elsewhere, flowering tobacco plants make excellent annuals to add splashes of color and scent throughout the season.

Flower shapes can vary slightly. Some are long tubes with a glowing, star-like opening, others are small and laden in masses to form clouds of bell-shaped flowers. Many white varieties fragrant at night, emitting a sweet, jasmine-like scent.

Flowering tobacco plants generally have medium-sized green leaves, which can be very large in many species, especially compared to the flowers. Additionally, their typically hairy leaves can be sticky to the touch, just like petunia plants.

Flowering tobacco is toxic to humans and pets.


Flowering tobacco overview

Genus name Nicotiana
Common name Flowering tobacco
Plant type annual
a light sun
to rise 10 to 72 inches
an offer 6 to 12 inches
Flower color Green, pink, purple, red, white, yellow
Color of foliage Blue green
Season features Autumn bloom, summer bloom
Special features Attracts birds, fragrant, good for containers, low maintenance
Regions 10, 11
Spread Seeds, stem cuttings

Where to grow flowering tobacco

Flowering tobacco should be planted in a place that gets plenty of sunlight. Taller varieties will likely require more shade. Place the taller varieties at the back of a sunny border; Others do well as colorful additions to the middle of a garden bed.

How and when to plant flowering tobacco

Flowering tobacco loves warm weather, so wait two or more weeks after the last frost in your area before planting it in your garden. Potted specimens generally require a planting hole about twice the size of the root ball, planting at the same depth as in the pot, deep watering at planting time, and regular watering intervals as the roots become established.

Tips for caring for flowering tobacco

Flowering tobacco is easy to grow and is a good container annual.

a light

Flowering tobacco plants do best in full sun, and some varieties can do in partial sun.

Soil and water

Flowering tobacco plants are very easy to grow in moist, well-drained soil. Give them rich soil, and they will happily load up on flowers that last until frost. Once established, these plants can handle some drought but prefer reasonably consistent moisture.

Temperature and humidity

Moderate temperatures are best for tobacco flowering. It will not tolerate high heat and extremely cold weather.


These plants are very heavy feeders, so a slow-release fertilizer is always helpful. To know how much to use, follow the product label instructions.


Deadhead tobacco blooms all season, but don't bloom too much at the end of the season if you want the plants to self-seed the following year. For bushy plants, pinch off the central stem of the plant.

Potting and replanting flowering tobacco

Enjoy the scent of flowering tobacco by planting it in containers near patios and balconies. Grow 1-quart plants in 1-gallon containers to eliminate the need to repot them after they grow. Potted flowering tobacco will need daily watering during hot summer days.

Pests and problems

Because of the toxicity of these plants, they are generally pest-free. However, some pests manage to cope with these toxins. For example, you may have problems with the tobacco moth, a large green caterpillar that eventually turns into a hummingbird moth. These large insects can quickly defoliate plants overnight. Manual removal is the easiest course of action against them. You may also have problems with aphids and whiteflies, but they are usually uncommon outdoors.

How to propagate flowering tobacco

The best way to propagate flowering tobacco is to let it self-seed in your garden. If you want to start seeds indoors, start seeds five to six weeks before the last frost date.

Press the tiny seeds into pots filled with moist potting mix and cover them only with soil dust or vermiculite, as they need light to germinate. Place the pots in a warm location (a heating mat works well) under bright, indirect light. Keep the soil well moist. Watering in a tray below the seed pots is ideal. Seedlings will appear after a few weeks. Grow in controlled conditions until you see several sets of true leaves, then harden off the plants before placing them in your garden.

Flowering tobacco species

'Lime green' flowering tobacco.

Peter Cromhardt

Nicotiana 'Lime Green' bears star-shaped flowers on 2-foot plants. Zones 10-11

Domino flowering tobacco

Lynn Carlin

Nicotiana 'Domino Series' bears flowers in shades of red, white, rose and pink on plants that are 14 inches tall.

Jasmine tobacco

Bob Lenz

Nicotiana alata It bears clusters of fragrant greenish-yellow flowers on 5-foot stems. Perennial in zones 10-11 but usually grows as an annual

Nicotiana is subject to change

David Speer

Nicotiana is subject to change It bears trumpet-shaped flowers that open white and mature to rich pink on 4-foot plants. Perennial in zones 9-11, but usually grown as an annual

Flowering tobacco 'Deep Purple Fragrance'.

Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple' is an award-winning variety bearing rich purple flowers on 2-foot plants. Zones 10-11

Nicotiana sylvestris

Brian E. McKay

Nicotiana sylvestris It bears clusters of fragrant, white, trumpet-shaped flowers on plants up to 5 feet tall. Perennial in zones 10-11 but usually grows as an annual

Flowering tobacco plants

Spider flower

Matthew Benson

Surprisingly, the long spider flower is an annual plant. Once the temperatures warm up, they enlarge to 4 feet or more very quickly with large balls of flowers that have gorgeous long seed pods that spin outward. Cut them into vases, but be aware that the flowers break easily after a few days. Because it develops large spines, it is best to keep spider flower away from walkways. Be careful about fertilizing, otherwise you will have very tall, floppy plants. Group in groups of 6 or more for best results. Zones 3-11

Dusty Miller

Tom McWilliam

Dusty Miller is a favorite because he looks good with everything. The silvery white color is a gorgeous foliage for any garden flower, and the softly textured foliage creates a beautiful contrast with other green foliage. Dusty miller has also earned its place in the garden because it is easy to grow, and it tolerates heat and drought like a champ. Zones 7-10

French marigold

Doug Hetherington

French velor is the luxurious one. They tend to be frilled, and some even boast a distinctive “crowned eye.” It grows about 8-12 inches high with a neat, elegant growth habit and dark green foliage. They do best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil and will flower all summer long. They may reseed, returning year after year to places where they feel happy. Zones 2-11

Garden plan for tobacco flower

Moon garden design

Create a moon garden to enjoy the flowers that bloom at night for beautiful evenings. Don't forget a park bench to relax and take it all in!

Frequently asked questions

  • How many types of flowering tobacco are there?

    There are 67 species of flowering tobacco plants as annuals, perennials, and a few woody plants. They are all toxic.

  • How big is the flowering tobacco?

    Depending on the cultivar, plants range from 6 to 10 inches tall as bedding plants, to about 2 to 3 feet tall, making them ideal for the middle of a border, and up to 15 feet tall as a specimen or the back of a border plant.

  • Where is flowering tobacco native?

    Flowering tobacco is native to southern Brazil and northeastern Argentina.

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