As the growing season ends, some plants have contributed extra for their part in the flower garden. Here, one of them is Woodland Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris).
It’s is an ornamental plant that grows as a direct-seeded annual in this region. It’s a member of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae) that contains potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Its origins are Bolivia as a perennial, but Woodland Tobacco is an annual that may self- seed in this region. It has been an ornamental favorite since the 1900’s and has been called Star Flower, referring to the shower of stars in its flower head.
It grows best in full sun to part shade and responds with accelerated growth to some extra moisture. In-ground, it grows to about 3 feet in height by the end of the season and the sturdy plant can withstand prairie breezes. It may also be grown in containers.
In a flowerbed, Woodland Tobacco reaches a height for a backdrop to other common annuals or it may be grown as a grouping of the plants. Its flowers are suitable for bouquets, as they stay open all day and are slightly odoriferous.
Seeds that are collected from the mature plant may be air dried and stored in a dark cabinet for next season. The seeds germinate in the warm soil of early summer.
Woodland tobacco adapts well to the variable temperature and moisture growing season and soils of this region and doesn’t require extra care. Some deer will graze on the new leaves of the plant, but it continues to re-grow to maturity.
Its large leaves contribute texture in the flowerbed and its mature height is taller than most annuals, adding vertical interest. White flowers stand out among the greenery. For the Plant Exchange garden, it’s one of the keepers.
What are plants that have contributed a lot to your growing site this season?
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Here on the Central Coast of California, there are too many contributing plants to list for the season. Nonetheless, there are always some that are lacking. I really do not know why, but the various species of Nicotiana happen to be unpopular here. Only the common feral Nicotiana alata is sometimes seen in or near old gardens.