How to Grow Nicotiana Plants

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Tobacco

Members of the Nicotiana genus are normally grown as half hardy annuals in the garden.

They bloom in the summer with attractive trumpet shaped flowers. The flowers are usually of pink, but can also be of green, white, yellow or red.

These plants are often used for research into plant development by researchers.

Tobacco picture

Common names for Nicotiana include Tobacco and Flowering Tobacco.

Nicotiana sylvestris
Nicotiana sylvestris – Woodland Tobacco by Anniesannuals; creative commons.

Nicotiana glauca
Nicotiana glauca – Tree Tobacco by Giopuo; creative commons.

Nicotiana Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Tobacco: Flowering; Manyflower; Jasmine; Winged; Tree; Shrub; Indian.
Family: Solanaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual. Half hardy perennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners.
Height: 40 to 80 inches (100 to 200 cm).
Native: Americas, Southern Africa, Australasia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10. As a perennial in zones 8 to 10.

Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: White, pink, red, yellow, green. Tinged. Tubular. Some species flower at night and/or are fragrant.
Foliage: Oblong-elliptic through oblong-lanceolate.

Sow Outside: Surface. Following last frost. Spacing 12 to 28 inches (30 to 70 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: one to two weeks in the light. Temperature 75°F (24°C). Seven or eight weeks before expected last frost. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Soil pH 6 to 7. Provide support. Regular watering. Deadhead.

How to Grow Tobacco, and other Nicotiana Plants in your Garden

Tobacco is a very easy plant to grow and look after, the seeds should be sown on the soil surface following the last frost of spring.

They are able to grow in lightly shaded or partially shaded areas and grow in most soils. For best results grow tobacco in a slightly acidic soil.

Tobacco can be grown indoors first. The seeds germinate in the light at 20 to 25 degrees Centigrade (68 to 77°F). This should take about two weeks.

Allow the seedlings to grow for about five weeks. Then transplant the tobacco plants into the garden following the last frost. Space at about 45 cm (18 inches) apart.

Caring for Tobacco plants

Once growing, tobacco should be watered during prolonged dry periods. Removing their trumpet flowers before they start setting seed will encourage further flowers. It is best to grow Nicotiana species from seed if you require further plants.

Common Questions

How many members does the Nicotiana genus contain?

The Nicotiana genus contains around 67 species. Some grown for their flowers, while others for their leaves.

Do Nicotiana members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Absolutely, Nicotiana species, particularly the flowering types, make excellent garden plants. They add a unique vertical element to the landscape and are great for attracting pollinators.

Which Nicotiana species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Nicotiana alata (Jasmine Tobacco) and Nicotiana sylvestris (Woodland Tobacco) are popular choices for their fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in the evening.

Are Nicotiana plants fragrant?

Many Nicotiana species, especially N. alata and N. sylvestris, are known for their strongly fragrant flowers that scent the evening air.

What is the perfect location to grow Nicotiana?

Nicotiana plants prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. They are somewhat drought-tolerant but perform best with regular watering.

Is Nicotiana invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Most Nicotiana species are not invasive in the USA. However, they can self-seed prolifically, so occasional monitoring is needed.

How do I remove Nicotiana plants from my garden?

Nicotiana plants can be easily pulled from the ground or dug up. To prevent reseeding, remove spent flowers before they set seed.


The Nicotiana genus, also known as tobacco plants, belongs to the Solanaceae family. They are known for their fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers that open in the evening or on cloudy days, providing a special allure for night pollinators.

Nicotiana should be planted in a location with full sun to light shade and moist, well-drained soil. They are usually planted in the spring as annuals. With their sweet scent and attractive flowers, they make a delightful addition to borders and containers, or as specimens in night gardens.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Nicotiana plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Browallia, Aloe vera, and Chinese Lanterns plants.