“Among the most popular of annuals, nicotiana provide long-lived colour, fragrance and much needed height in summer displays. Great for filling gaps in borders left by spring bulbs, they also combine well with other bedding plants in container displays. The tall, swaying, green and white-flowered types compliment cottage garden schemes and are popular with flower arrangers.”
Not only are Nicotiana flowers marvellous things for your retina to get all tingly about but also the chaps in the olfactory department do a little jig when a waft of Nicotiana scent comes bouncing its way up the nasal passages. Generally, Nicotiana releases its scent in the evening as the clever little creature is trying to attract moths to pollinate it.
Some folk occasionally have trouble germinating the seeds….but it’s really easy if you follow a few rules…
Growing Nicotiana from seed. The Higgledy method.
*Nicotiana is a half-hardy annual. (Click here to get the skinny on what half-hardy annuals are all about.) Being a half-hardy we can only make one sowing a year, in spring. I tend to wait until the beginning of April for sowing in pots and if I’m sowing directly into the soil (rarely) I would sow in early May. I made a sowing yesterday, on March 23rd, because that’s the kind of rock and roll maverick I am….breaking my own rules…I just don’t care.
*I sow nearly all my annuals into three-inch square pots. I’ve had them for ten years and the system works fine for me. One great thing about pots this size is that the seedlings won’t need potting up before you plant them out. This cuts down your workload by 24.65%. If you fill your greenhouse or ‘mini storage box greenhouse‘ with seedlings in tiny cells, you will end up with far too many seedlings that will all need potting up and are very likely to become weak and stressed. This will make you feel like a failure and some of your friends will stop coming around. Start with a decent size pot and fill it up with good-quality compost. (I use Melcourt Sylva Grow.)
*Nicotiana seeds are tiny…REALLY tiny. They need to be surface sown as they need light to germinate. (I always forget they need light and it doesn’t seem to make any difference but this is the horticultural ‘party line’ and I can’t go against it or Monty will give me a pasting.)
*Try to only sow three or four seed per pot. This is nearly impossible but you should try.
*After three weeks or so your seedlings will be showing, and in theory, you should now thin them down to one per pot. This can prove tricky with Nicotiana so for the last few years I have just let them fight it out. One plant will become victorious.
*I plant mine out at about a foot apart. Check the 10 day forecast for late frosts beforehand. If the coast is clear, then plant away.
FAQ: Higgers old fruit…which are the best Nicotiana for the cut flower patch?
ANS: Lime Green. This is a perfect zingy citrus green which is delightful on its own but sets off any other colour of flower in your vase.
‘Affinis’, pure white and charming.
‘White Trumpets’. Giant, stateswoman-like…wonderfully willowy.
‘Sensation’. A vibey blend of happy colours.
If I was thee, I would buy a packet of each from the Higgledy Seed Shop of Dreams.
Higgers and Flash
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