Plant flowering nicotiana for a sweet smelling addition to the flowerbed.
image by Swami Stream: flickr.com (http://www.flickr.com/photos/araswami/2356450669/)
Flowering nicotiana is also known as flowering tobacco or white shooting stars, due to its beautiful white blooms. This plant is a perennial in zones 10 and 11 and is an annual plant in cooler zones. Gardeners wishing a head start might plant flowering nicotiana indoors approximately six weeks prior to the last spring frost date or plant the seeds outdoors after all frost danger has passed. Expect a plethora of white blossoms throughout the entire summer.
Fill the seed tray with potting soil. Place two seeds in each individual pot and press the seeds gently into the soil with your finger. Do not cover the seeds with soil. Place the seed tray in a location with a constant temperature of between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and mist the soil with the spray bottle from time to time to aid in germination.
Look for sprouts within 1 to 2 weeks. After the seedlings have sprouted, place the seed tray in a sunny location or under a grow light. When the seedlings have at least two sets of true leaves, remove one seedling from each pot to leave the strongest seedling growing.
Prepare a sunny growing area outdoors by working the soil and adding compost to improve the drainage, if necessary.
Harden off the seedlings before transplanting outside. Move the seedlings outside to a sheltered and shaded area for several hours each day. Start at 4 hours and gradually increase the time. Move the plants to an area that receives more sun after several days also. Keep the soil moist during the hardening-off process. After 2 weeks of a gradual transition, plant the seedlings outside in the ground.
Dig holes for the seedlings. Space the holes between 6 and 12 inches apart for shorter varieties and between 18 and 30 inches apart for taller varieties. Make the holes just large enough for the root systems to fit comfortably.
Water the seedlings after planting and keep them evenly moist throughout the entire summer. Plants growing in the ground will not require fertilization. Consider staking flowering nicotiana if you are growing one of the taller varieties.
Cut back the stems to several inches above the soil level in the autumn when the plants show signs of decline. In zones 10 and 11, place several inches of mulch onto the plants over the winter and remove the mulch in the spring.