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The Plant Guide

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Tobacco

Nicotiana langsdorffii

nih-koe-shee-AY-nah langs-DORF-fee-eye

Broad, deep-green leaves nearly a foot long and panicles of flowers the color of a Granny Smith apple make this Nicotiana a great companion for many other garden plants. It looks especially handsome with dark-foliaged trees or shrubs like purple smoke bush ( Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) or ‘Diabolo’ ninebark ( Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’). It is also good with grasses. N. langsdorffii comes into its own as a moderator wherever colors clash. That chameleon-like quality makes this nicotiana’s propensity to self-sow most welcome; no matter where its progeny appear, they look great.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsSelf-sows, bold foliage, green flowers that mix readily with other colors.

CareGrow in moist but well-drained soil rich in organic matter, in full sun or part shade. Stake if necessary.

PropagationTo get nicotianas going, you could just scatter seed in early spring, but you won’t get much of a display until August. For earlier blooms, start the minuscule seeds inside 8 to10 weeks before the last frost date. Seeds should be surface-sown since they need light to germinate. In 10 days or so, the seeds sprout and soon form attractive little rosettes. Leaves yellow quickly if the seedlings get hungry. Feed them with a weekly draught of fish emulsion and water-soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer, using each at half strength. As the frost-free date nears, gradually acclimate seedlings to life outdoors. By early summer, nicotianas started indoors should be in bloom.

ProblemsAphids, caterpillars, leaf miners, spider mites, viruses, stem rot, stalk rot, downy mildew, damping off, root rot.

  • Genus : Nicotiana
  • Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
  • Zones : 10, 11
  • Plant Height : 3 to 6 feet
  • Plant Type : Annuals
  • Uses : Containers
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Flower Color : Green
  • Moisture : Medium Moisture
  • Growth Rate : Moderate
  • Maintenance : Moderate
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage
  • Bloom Time : Summer
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
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