Made for the Shade
by Neil Sperry
I stopped by to help a grower friend of mine mark a spot where a new tree might be planted into his landscape. He wasn’t there, but I knew he wouldn’t mind if I sneaked a peek into his greenhouses. That’s where I found this wonderful bench of a plant that just doesn’t get grown often enough in Texas gardens.
It’s flowering tobacco, Nicotiana alata, and this is a rosy-pink selection out of the very successful ‘Perfume’ series.
Nicotianas have always been known for their fragrance, but recently growers have been less and less concerned about that feature, opting instead for unique growth habits, variations in color and other characteristics. The ‘Perfume’ series has all of it, and that’s why they’ve been popular (at least in comparison to other nicotianas).
This plant grows well in morning sun, with shade from 9 or 10 on. It’s one of our more shade-tolerant annual flowers, so if you’re caught with one of those in-between spots where it’s too sunny for shade plants and too shady for sun plants, this might be a match. It’s certainly worth trying a few.
The ‘Perfumes’ grow to 18 or 20 inches in height and 12 to 15 inches in width. They bloom for at least a couple of months, so while they won’t last all the way until frost, they’re still well worth including in almost any landscape. They’re nice in patio pots as well.
Give them rich, highly organic potting soil. Fertilize them regularly, and keep them moist at all times. They are luxuriant growers.