Nicotiana alata ( also called N. affinis ) has been grown as a garden flower by generations of gardeners who have valued its intense evening fragrance. In the old days it was not particularly decorative – the tall stems needed staking and the flowers closed during the day, but nowadays there are dwarf varieties and with many modern hybrids the long trumpet-like blooms regularly.
VARIETIES : You can still buy N. alata with its tall stems, white flowers and evening fragrance. It is a much better plan, however, to buy a more compact variety which opens during the day. There is ‘Crimson Rock’ ( 2ft ), ‘Dwarf White Bedder’ ( 1½ ft ). and ‘Red Devil’ ( 1½ ft ). Good mixtures include ‘Sensation’ ( 3 ft ), ‘Nicki Mixed’ ( 1 ft ) and ‘Tinkerbelle’ ( 9 in ). The yellowish ‘Lime Green’ is popular.
SITE & SOIL : Any well-drained garden soil will do – thrives in sun or light shade.
PLANT DETAILS : Height 9 in. – 3 ft. Spacing 9 in. – 1 ft. Flowering period or light shade.
PROPAGATION : Plant out when the danger of frost is past.