Tree tobacco bears fleshy, almost succulent, saucer-size leaves that have a lovely silver-blue color. This tender perennial can be easily grown from seed as an annual and, in a single season, makes the incredible leap from a dust mote of seed to a skyscraping specimen 10 or more feet tall. Plants are a little rangy, but plenty of pinching helps keep tree tobacco at a size suited to a more modest perennial border. The plant bears yellow flowers if given a long enough growing season.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsSilvery-blue foliage, fast growth, semi-evergreen. It is invasive in some areas, including the southwestern United States.
CareNicotiana likes fertile, moist but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. Staking may be needed.
PropagationTo get tree tobacco 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 to 10 weeks before the last frost date. Seeds should be surface-sown since they need light to germinate. In 10 days or so, the seeds will sprout and soon form attractive little rosettes. Leaves yellow quickly if the seedlings get hungry. Feed plants with a weekly mix 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.
ProblemsAphids, caterpillars, leaf miners, and spider mites can be problems. Stem rot, stalk rot, downy mildew, damping off, and root rot occur frequently, as do viruses causing mosaic, vein vanding, etch, and ringspots.
- Genus : Nicotiana
- Zones : 10, 11
- Plant Height : 6 to 10 feet
- Plant Width : 6 to 10 feet
- Uses : Containers
- Growth Rate : Fast
- Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
- Bloom Time : Late Summer
- Moisture : Medium Moisture
- Maintenance : Moderate
- Foliage Color : Purple/Burgundy
- Characteristics : Showy Foliage
- Plant Type : Shrubs
- Plant Seasonal Interest : Summer Interest
- Flower Color : Yellow