Monday, November 15th, 2010...12:00 am

Nicotiana: Flowering Tobacco

Nicotiana tabacum (Tobacco) by Luigi FDV

This GardenLady does not smoke and of course she hopes her readers don’t. But there is possibly a good side to nicotine that recently appeared in the news.  And this is the possible use of this family of plants to create organic pesticides.  See here.  Let us hope that scientists can create a good new organic pesticide that is safe to use, just as one of the organic pesticides pyrethrum comes from the genus Chrysanthemum.  And you can make your own organic pesticide from your marigolds.  See here.

is fascinated by the brilliant use of companion planting (see here), using plants like dill or marigolds and others to encourage beneficial insects and bacteria or to ward off the bad insects, the bad bacteria and perhaps fungus. It is a boon to other plants. And there is one flower that is in the same family that tobacco comes from that those who use companion planting know about -that is Nicotiana.

This plant has an attractive flower that hummingbirds, butterflies and moths love but deer and rabbits don’t.  It has few pests, but there are some such as slugs that like it. Fragrance is often the main reason for planting Nicotiana, and this fragrance is most intense in the evening. Now that TheGardenLady has a lot of color in her garden, plants with fragrances are those that are being added. A tall variety of nicotiana that people love and apparently so do the hummingbirds is Nicotiana mutabilis and there are some shorter clumping varieties that are named Hummingbird Mix  or Hummingbird nicotiana because they attract hummingbirds.

So consider adding nicotiana to your garden. It is grown as an annual unless you live in the warmer temperature zones. If you are lucky, it might self seed.   If you have room in your sunny garden, the taller Nicotiana alata might be your first choice especially for its fragrance. If you don’t have as much room or don’t want to stake these taller plants or have a garden with a little shade (full sun is preferred) consider the All American Award Plant Selection for 2006 that companies like Park Seed sell and that is Flowering Tobacco Perfume Deep Purple Hybrid – Nicotiana x sanderae Perfume Deep Purple. Nicotiana likes moist soil. It tolerates heat and humidity.   If you cut the dead flowers off after the first bloom, you will probably get a second bloom of flowers.  There are at least 70 varieties to choose from, so don’t limit yourself to the Nicotiana mentioned in this post. Read up on all the possibilities.

Just because something is organic does not mean that it can’t be poisonous and all parts of Nicotiana are poisonous. So if you have small children or pets, do not let them eat any part of the plant. But otherwise, enjoy.

Nicotiana 50/50 by rondendikken

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1 Comment

  • I love your blog because you talk about all different kinds of practical, beautiful, and interesting topics. I have Nicotiana sylvestris in my garden. It is tall but doesn’t need staking, reseeds, has huge drooping white flowers, and looks beautiful in fall. Keep up the good work. Carolyn

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