Nicotiana Growing Guide

Soil

Average garden soil with excellent drainage.

Position

Full sun to partial afternoon shade.

Frost tolerant

None. Nicotiana is a warm-natured flower.

Feeding

Fast growth is encouraged by mixing a balanced organic fertilizer into the soil before planting. In midsummer, drench plants with a liquid fertilizer to stimulate late-season blooming.

Companions

Lettuce, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Broccoli and Collards. Upright nicotiana combines well with mound-forming flowers like portulaca or lobelia. The tubular flowers attract hummingbirds, and many varieties are fragrant.

Spacing

Single Plants: 11″ (30cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 11″ (30cm) with 11″ (30cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Set out stocky seedlings from spring to early summer, after the soil has warmed. When starting the tiny seeds indoors, barely cover them with moist seed-starting mix.

Notes

Nicotiana can be used as a trap crop from tomato hornworms. In midsummer, cut the plants back by half their size to quickly gather up hornworms eating the leaves. Very tall varieties benefit from staking. Nicotiana colors include white, pink, red, purple, lime green and yellow.

Harvesting

As flowers fade, snip them off the flowering spikes with scissors to keep the plants looking neat.

Troubleshooting

Aphids, slugs and both tomato and tobacco hornworms can require management. Some people are sensitive to nicotiana leaf sap and should dress defensively when working around the plants.