Nicotiana sylvestris

How to grow tobacco plant

Find out all you need to know about growing Nicotiana in this detailed growing guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do not Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Nicotiana, also known as the flowering tobacco plant, comes in a range of colours and sizes. The trumpet-like flowers have a unique nocturnal scent that attracts moths into the garden through the summer.

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Perfect for a mixed border or containers, and easy to grow from seed, these tender perennials are a good choice for any size garden and they also make excellent cut flowers.

Follow our start-to-finish guide to growing tobacco plant, below.

The trumpet-like flowers have a unique nocturnal scent that attracts moths into the garden through the summer.

Nicotiana alata 'Lime Green'
Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’

Where to plant nicotiana

Grow nicotianas in moist, well-drained soil, in full sun to partial shade. Some cultivars, such as the alata group prefer a position in full sun, and taller varieties may bend towards the light if not in direct sun.

Nicotiana seedlings
Nicotiana seedlings

Ho to plant nicotiana

Sow nicotiana seeds in early spring, under cover. Then plant out after the last frost, making sure young plants are fully hardened off. Follow our step by step guide to sowing nicotiana seeds.

Deadheading nicotiana
Deadheading nicotiana

Looking after tobacco plant

Cut flowers and deadhead spent blooms regularly to prolong the flowering season. Species nicotianas will self-seed if allowed. Grown as tender perennials, nicotianas can be overwintered outdoors in sheltered gardens and, after cutting back, may regrow from the roots the following spring.

Saved nicotiana seeds
Saved nicotiana seeds

Collect seed from tobacco plant

Cut back seedpods and dry in paper bags to collect the tiny seeds.

Nicotiana seedlings
Nicotiana seedlings

Nicotiana: problem solving

Nicotianas are relatively trouble-free to grow. Protect young seedlings from slugs and snails.

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Nicotiana alata 'Domino Red'
Nicotiana alata ‘Domino Red’

Five nicotiana varieties to grow

Nicotiana sylvestris – a tall tobacco plant, growing to 1.5m with large scented leaves and elegant, drooping white flowers with an intense fragrance. It makes a statement in a border, works well in large containers and makes a wonderful cut flower.
Nicotiana alata ‘Lime Green’ – a short-lived tender perennial with large, funnel-shaped, lime-green flowers. During the day the blooms wilt, but from early evening onwards they perk up and emit a seductive fragrance that attracts moths.
Nicotiana langsdorffii – a fantastic species nicotiana for growing in large swathes at the back of an herbaceous border, or among other perennials. It bears tall spikes of lime-green flowers with a delicious scent, through the summer.
Nicotiana alata ‘Domino Crimson’ – a vigorous but short-lived tender perennial with large, funnel-shaped, bright red flowers. From early evening onwards they emit a seductive fragrance. The flowers are a magnet for night-flying moths.
Nicotiana x hybrida ‘Whisper Mixed’ – a tall selection of nicotianas, brilliant for growing at the back of a border. Plants have silver-green foliage and bear flowers in glorious, muted shades of white and pink, all summer long. They release a delicate fragrance to attract moths in the evening.