Common name: Tobacco plant
French name: Le tabac sylvestre
I discovered Nicotiana last year and think it’s a wonderful addition to any French garden.
At the end of towering stems, long, pure white, trumpets appear which are happy to continuously flower here in France from early July through to the end of September. These gorgeous flower heads combined with the hairy, large leaves of the plant add an aristocratic statement to any border.
Nicotiana is an annual and thrives in full sun or partial shade and in well-drained, moist, fertile soil.
I have grown Nicotiana from seed for the past 2 years, and it has to be one of the easiest flowers I have ever grown. Sown in pots or trays the tiny, sand grain sized seeds easily put down roots and they continue to develop with the minimum of fuss.
Plant out once the last of the frosts have passed and you’ll soon have flowers which reach up to a majestic 150cm tall.
Statuesque they certainly are, but this is not the be all and end all of their merits. As dusk falls, Nicotiana emits a wonderful scent, filling the evening air with the most intoxicating fragrance. Placed next to a door or walk way you can not fail to be greeted by their fabulous perfume.
This perfume is not enjoyed by us humans alone, moths are also drawn to the scent and whilst the trumpet flowers are too long for your average moth to enjoy, over the past two weeks Paul and I have had the pleasure of seeing two hummingbird hawkmoths feasting each evening on their nectar using their long proboscis to reach down to the bottom of the trumpets.
Nicotiana freely self seed but you can also easily collect seed at the end of the season.
Graceful and scented, plant Nicotiana in your border next year and you too could have hummingbird hawkmoths to watch.