How to Plant and Grow Flowering Tobacco

This annual becomes fragrant at night, making it perfect for moon gardens.

Flowering tobacco plants have long been prized in cottage and moon gardens for their intensely scented flowers. A relative of true tobacco, flowering tobacco plants are grown for their blooms. Perennial in Zones 10-11, elsewhere, flowering tobacco plants make excellent annuals for adding splashes of color and scent all season long.

Bloom shapes can vary quite a bit. Some are long tubes with a flared star-like opening, while others are small and borne in large quantities that create clouds of bell-shaped blooms. Many white varieties are fragrant at night, emitting a sweet smell similar to jasmine.

Flowering tobacco plants generally have medium-green leaves. These leaves can be quite large in many species, especially in comparison to the flowers. In addition, their usually hairy leaves can be sticky to the touch, much like petunia plants.

Flowering tobacco is toxic to humans and pets.


Flowering Tobacco Overview

Genus Name Nicotiana
Common Name Flowering Tobacco
Plant Type Annual
Light Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 10 to 72 inches
Flower Color Green, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Fragrance, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings

Where to Plant Flowering Tobacco

Flowering tobacco should be planted where it will get plenty of sunshine. Taller varieties are much more likely to require staking in more shade.

How and When to Plant Flowering Tobacco

Plant flowering tobacco two weeks or more after the last frost date in your area.

Flowering Tobacco Care Tips

Flowering tobacco is easy to grow, and it's a good container annual. Because of its toxicity, keep it out of reach of children and pets.


Flowering tobacco plants do best in full sun, and some varieties can perform in part sun.

Soil and Water

Flowering tobacco plants are extremely easy to grow in well-drained, moist soils. Give them rich soil, and they'll happily load up on blooms that last until frost. Once these plants are established, they can handle some drought but prefer reasonably consistent moisture.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperatures on the moderate side are best for flowering tobacco. It won't survive high heat and extreme cold weather.


These plants are very heavy feeders, so a slow-release fertilizer is always beneficial. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions.


Deadhead tobacco flower throughout the season, but don't deadhead too much towards the end of the season if you want the plants to self-seed the next year. For bushier plants, pinch out the center stem of the plant.

Potting and Repotting Flowering Tobacco

Enjoy the scent of flowering tobacco by planting it in containers near patios and porches. Plant 1 quart plants in 1 gallon containers to eliminate the need for repotting after they've grown. Potted flowering tobacco will need daily watering during the hottest days of summer.

Pests and Problems

Because of the toxicity of these plants, they're generally pest free. A few pests, however, have managed to deal with these toxins. For example, you may have problems with the tobacco hornworm, a large green caterpillar that eventually becomes the hummingbird moth. These big bugs can quickly defoliate plants almost overnight. Manual removal is the easiest course of action against them. You may also encounter problems with aphids and whiteflies, but these are usually uncommon in outdoor settings.

How to Propagate Flowering Tobacco

The best way to propagate flowering tobacco is to let it self-seed in your yard.

Types of Flowering Tobacco

'Lime Green' Flowering Tobacco

'Lime Green' flowering tobacco
Peter Krumhardt

Nicotiana 'Lime Green' bears chartreuse star-shaped flowers on 2-foot-tall plants. Zones 10-11

Domino Flowering Tobacco

Domino flowering tobacco
Lynn Karlin

Nicotiana 'Domino Series' bears flowers in shades of red, white, pink, and rose on 14-inch-tall plants.

Jasmine Tobacco

Jasmine tobacco plant
Bob Lenz

Nicotiana alata bears clusters of fragrant greenish-yellow flowers on 5-foot-tall stems. Perennial in Zones 10-11 but usually grown as an annual.

Nicotiana Mutabilis

Nicotiana mutabilis flowering tobacco
David Speer

Nicotiana mutabilis bears trumpet-shaped flowers that open white and mature to rich rose pink on 4-foot-tall plants. Perennial in Zones 9-11, but usually grown as an annual.

'Perfume Deep Purple' Flowering Tobacco

'Perfume Deep Purple' flowering tobacco

Nicotiana 'Perfume Deep Purple' is an award-winning selection that bears rich purple flowers on 2-foot-tall plants. Zones 10-11

Nicotiana Sylvestris

Nicotiana sylvestris flowering tobacco
Bryan E. McCay

Nicotiana sylvestris bears clusters of fragrant white trumpet-shaped flowers on plants to 5 feet tall. Perennial in Zones 10-11 but usually grown as an annual.

Flowering Tobacco Companion Plants

Spider Flower

Cleome Spider Flower
Matthew Benson

Amazingly, the tall spider flower is only an annual. Once temperatures warm up, it zooms to 4 feet or more very quickly with large balls of flowers that have fascinating long seedpods that whirl out. Cut it for vases, but be aware that the flowers shatter easily after a few days. Because it develops large thorns, it's best to keep spider flower away from walkways. Be careful about fertilizing, or you'll have extremely tall floppy plants. Group in clusters of 6 or more for best effect. Zones 3-11

Dusty Miller

dusty miller Senecio cineraria
Tom McWilliam

Dusty miller is a favorite because it looks good with everything. The silvery-white color is a great foil for any garden blossom, and the fine-textured foliage creates a beautiful contrast against other green foliage. Dusty miller has also earned its place in the garden because it's easy to grow, withstanding heat and drought like a champion. Zones 7-10

French Marigolds

french marigolds
Doug Hetherington

French marigolds are the fancy ones. They tend to be frilly, and some boast a distinctive "crested eye." They grow roughly 8-12 inches high with a chic, neat growth habit and dark green foliage. They do best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil and will flower all summer long. They may reseed, coming back year after year, in spots where they're happy. Zones 2-11

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many types of flowering tobacco are there?

    There are 67 species of flowering tobacco annuals, perennials, and a few woody plants. All of them are toxic.

  • How big will flowering tobacco get?

    Plants range from 6 to 10 inches tall as bedding plants, to around 2 to 3 feet tall, perfect for the middle of the border, and even up to 15 feet tall as a specimen or back-of-the-border plant.

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