Plant DetailShow Menu

Nicotiana alata

Phonetic Spelling
nih-ko-she-AH-na ah-LAH-tah
Description

Jasmine tobacco is an annual or a tender herbacous perennial in the Solanaceae (nighthade) family native to South America. 

Plant it in the full sun to partial shade in moist, well-drained soil that is high in organic material.  It has a low tolerance for drought conditions, so be sure the soil remains moist.  While it withstands full sun the plants appreciate some afternoon shade, especially in hot southern climates.  This plant needs 12-14 inches of space when planted and will grow to reach 3 to 5 feet in height.  It can be propagated easily through seed which can be direct sown in the garden or started indoors.  

The showy fragrant tubular flowers open only at night and are reminiscent of Petunia x hybrida or Calibrachoa x hybrida. But Nicotiana alata has smaller flowers, more distinct points to petals, much larger leaves, and the plant grows taller than Petunia x hybrida or Calibrachoa x hybrida.  It can be challenging to find the true species of this plant except by seed.  Many flowering tobaccos sold in the nursery are compact hybrids like N. alata x N. forgetinana or Nicotiana x sanderae.  These shorter plants, reaching a maximum height of 2 feet have flowers that are unscented and open during the day.  

The intoxicating fragrance from its showy flowers attracts nighttime pollinators like moths making it an excellent addition to a moonlit garden. Plant it as a filler in a container, in rock gardens, near a patio, or mass plant it in borders.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious pests.  Do not plant near vegetable gardens that have other night shade plants (tomoates, potatoes, peppers) as they can share and spread viruses like tobacco mosaic virus.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Davidson County Demo Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Baby Bella Antique Red'
    Red with green flowers
  • 'Grandiflora'
    Large creamy white flowers, very fragrant, light shade
  • 'Lime Green'
    Chartreuse flowers
  • 'Saratoga Rose'
'Baby Bella Antique Red', 'Grandiflora', 'Lime Green', 'Saratoga Rose'
Tags:
#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#annuals#white flowers#red flowers#yellow flowers#low maintenance#fall interest#mass planting#summer flowers#nighttime garden#rock gardens#border planting#pollinator plant#patio planting#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#drought intolerant#container plants
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Baby Bella Antique Red'
    Red with green flowers
  • 'Grandiflora'
    Large creamy white flowers, very fragrant, light shade
  • 'Lime Green'
    Chartreuse flowers
  • 'Saratoga Rose'
'Baby Bella Antique Red', 'Grandiflora', 'Lime Green', 'Saratoga Rose'
Tags:
#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#annuals#white flowers#red flowers#yellow flowers#low maintenance#fall interest#mass planting#summer flowers#nighttime garden#rock gardens#border planting#pollinator plant#patio planting#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#partial shade tolerant#drought intolerant#container plants
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Nicotiana
    Species:
    alata
    Family:
    Solanaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South America
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds, butterflies, moths
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    The seeds are almost microscopic they are so tiny.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Trumpet
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    fused petals
    Flower Description:
    Flowers can be lime green, red, white, or yellow. They have 5 "petals," which make a star shape but the petals are fused together into a long tube that hangs downward on the stem. Their bloom season is long from early summer to the first frost though the individual flowers last only one night.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Spatulate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are much larger than flowers: they can be dark green or light green with larger spatulate (12" long) leaves with winged petioles at the base of the plant. Leaves on the upper stem are much smaller and sessile (no petiole)
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Nighttime Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds