Nicotiana alata

If you love sweetly scented flowers you will certainly want the tall white tobacco plant in a pot or trough near the house, for when the flowers open in the evening their scent carries far and wide. They are tallish plants on stems up to 3 feet (90 cm) high, and may need a few twiggy branches placed discreetly among them to hold them up. Usually grown as half-hardy annuals, they flower in continuous succession from mid-summer until the frosts. They like rich soil and a sunny place, but will grow in light shade, in which case the flowers will be open by day as well as dusk.

There are a number of excellent varieties of tobacco plant, including the sophisticated ‘Lime Green’, much used in flower arrangements, and some dwarf mixtures in pink, red, yellow and white which remain open by day, but none of these has the rich, strong scent of the evening-flowering species, so you might have one pot of the latter, and a larger container for a dwarf mixture. All the tobacco plants are quite bushy, with large basal leaves, so there will not be space for much else in the pots, except possibly an edging of lobelias.

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