A tall, upright annual for the middle of the border, that is loved for its strong heady fragrance. The main cultivars have a bold rosette of large leaves, from which rise tall branching flower stems. Dwarf forms are also available. Older varieties mainly flower in the evening, but modern hybrids bear flowers that open during the day.

Family: Solanaceae (nightshade family)
Botanical Name: Nicotiana
Common Names: Tobacco Plant

Foliage: Deciduous, simple large oval leaves.

Flowers: Starry, long-tubed, fragrant flowers, borne on tall branching stems. Available in a range of colours. Blooms change colour as they age.

Flowering Period: Early summer to early autumn.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (loam, chalk or clay) any pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun, will tollerate some shade. Plant in an south, west or east facing aspect, in a sheltered position

Habit: Upright, bushy.

Type: Can be annuals, biennials or perennials but generally grown as half-hardy annuals in the UK .

Origin: South America

Toxicity: Poisonous if ingested.

Hardiness: Half-hardy, protect from frost

Planting and Growing Nicotiana

Easy to grow. The best results are achieved in a fertile, well drained soil in full sun.

Tobacco plants mix well with other border flowers and give height to a border or bedding scheme. They also look good planted in loose drifts among shrubs or other taller plants.

Suitable for town and city gardens, cottage or informal gardens. Good for flower beds, borders, pots and containers.

Taking Care of Nicotiana

Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Feed with a liquid fertiliser every two weeks.


No pruning necessary.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to aphids, leafhoppers and whitefly. Generally disease free.

Propagating Nicotiana

Sow the seeds under glass in late winter to early spring, at a temperature of 18°C (64°F). Sow on the surface, do not cover or exclude light. Prick-out, pot on, then plant-out at the end of May when all danger of frost is past. Space the plants 9-12in (23-30cm) apart.

Popular Varieties of Nicotiana Grown in the UK

Most hybrids and cultivars have been developed from Nicotiana alata.

‘Domino Mixed’, compact form, with flowers in red, pink, mauve, lilac, lime and white. Height 1ft (30cm).

‘Evening Fragrance’, has strongly scented flowers in pink, red, lilac, mauve and white. Height to 3ft (90cm).

‘Lime Green’, greenish yellow flowers. Height to 3ft (90cm).

‘Merlin’, a dwarf form in mixed colours, of crimson, white, lime-green and bicoloured purple. Height to 9in (23cm)

‘Nicki’, fragrant blooms in a mixture of colours from pink, white, red, mauve, maroon and lime-green. Height 1ft (30cm).

‘Roulette’, mixture of flower colours, over bright green foliage. Height 1ft (30cm).

‘Sensation Mixed’ has flowers in a wide range of colours. Height 2.5ft (75cm).