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How to Grow Nicotiana


Nicotiana are tender perennials that are grown as annuals in most parts of the world.

Nicotiana plants produce fragrant flowers that emit their scent at night. They are often planted along paths or near patios that are used for nighttime activities. Their fragrance is intense, and a small bouquet will scent your whole house. Nicotiana’s trumpet-shaped flowers come in shades of green, red, white, purple and pastels.

Select a spot to plant nicotiana that is in full sun in average, well-drained soil. It will also tolerate light shade but will produce fewer flowers.

Prepare the planting site by turning over the soil with a garden spade. Rake the planting bed smooth.

Start nicotiana from seed by mixing it with sand and broadcasting it on the prepared seedbed. Nicotiana seeds need light to germinate so do not cover the seeds with soil; lightly press them into the soil with your hands.

Transplant small bedding plants, which are available at garden centers in spring to purchase and transplant. Dig a hole with your garden trowel that is only slightly larger than the root ball of the nicotiana transplant. Carefully remove the transplant from its nursery pot and slip the roots into the hole. Back fill with soil and firm the surface around the base of the plant so it stands up on its own.

Use a hose-end sprayer set to a fine mist to water nicotiana seeds. Check the seedbed daily and mist as needed to keep it moist until they germinate in 14 to 28 days. Water newly planted small transplants immediately after transplanting with a hand watering can. During the growing season, provide nicotiana with the equivalent of 1 inch of rainfall per week.

Thin nicotiana seedlings when they are 2 inches high so they stand 6-to-12 inches apart for shorter varieties and 18-to-30 inches apart for taller varieties.

Apply a 4-to-6-inch layer of organic mulch such as hay, straw or wood chips.

Support taller varieties of nicotiana with bamboo or other commercially available flower support stakes. Insert the stakes near the base of the plant and use raffia to loosely fasten the plant to the stake as it grows.

Fertilize monthly during the growing season with water-soluble fertilizer mixed according to the manufacturer’s recommended rates of application.

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