Gardening in France, Nicotiana sylvestris

Nicotiana sylvestris

Common name: Tobacco plant
French name: Le tabac sylvestre

Gardening in France, Nicotiana sylvestris

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.

Gardening in France, Nicotiana sylvestris

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.

A bientôt
Katherine x

'Nicotiana sylvestris' have 3 comments

  1. July 18, 2014 @ 7:16 am Jeremy

    That’s nicotiana affinis / alata, NOT sylvestris – I grow both.

    Sylvestris is a much more substantial plant – I wish I had the space to grow it well, but pride of place in my garden goes to my brugmansias – another south American member of the solanaceae and also with an amazing fragrance.


  2. September 22, 2016 @ 3:19 pm Gardening for Wildlife Part 3: Top 8 Plants for Nocturnal Moths | jardin-perdu

    […] Nicotiana sylvestris (Tobacco plant) French name: Le tabac sylvestre. My absolute favourite scented flower to grow! This annual will provide you with an abundance of highly scented, white trumpet-shaped flowers which are a mecca for moths with long proboscis such as the Hummingbird hawk-moth and Convolvulus Hawk-moth. Easily grown from seed in March, they will flower from July right through to the first frosts. I have this planted both in my front garden and on our balcony; the perfume in the evening is simply divine!  A word of warning through; they self-seed prolifically! Plant in full sun and in well-drained soil. Height: 1m – 1.5m. You can read my earlier blog about Nicotiana sylvestris here. […]


  3. October 3, 2017 @ 3:29 pm My top 8 Gardening Jobs for October | jardin-perdu

    […] not all doom and gloom though. Sedum, Rudbeckia, Nicotiana, Aster, Dahlia and Helenium continue to add a very welcome splash of colour to my garden and will […]


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Le Jardin Perdu 2018. All images and posts are the property of Katherine Forshaw

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