Hummingbirds Can't Resist This Fragrant Night-Blooming Plant

If you are looking for fragrant flowers that hummingbirds adore, look no further than Nicotiana. Also known as flowering tobacco or flowering jasmine, this beautiful plant comes into its own at night when the flowers open more completely. With tubular or bell-shaped flowers, hummingbirds are lured by the rich nectar the sweet-smelling blooms provide. Related to the plant that produces smoking tobacco, these plants are grown for their beautiful blossoms instead. Blooming from June to September in red, pink, and white, these flowers become even more fragrant after the sun goes down. This makes them perfect for a moon garden or planting under a bedroom window. The smaller varieties also do well in containers on the porch or patio where they bring hummingbirds and butterflies up close.

There are over 75 species of Nicotiana, all fragrant and all potentially gorgeous in the landscape. But in the average garden, the mid-size Nicotiana alata and its hybrids are a great choice. Growing from 2 to 5 feet tall, they are perfect for the middle or back of the garden border.

Why hummingbirds love flowering tobacco

Hummingbirds must find and eat nectar to survive. That sweet substance makes up 90% of a hummingbird's diet. This constant job of feeding becomes much easier when they find plants whose blooms are tubular. The bird then reaches its long tongue into the flower to grab the largest amount of nectar. Flowering tobacco has long, trumpet-shaped flowers that are deeper than most plants, making hummingbirds one of the few creatures who can reach their nectar.

All hummingbirds have a favorite flower color. According to Audubon, red or orange flowers are the easiest to see within the greenery of a garden, so hummingbirds are most attracted to those colors. They will, however, feed from any color bloom given it has a high nectar content and tube-shaped blossoms. If you want to bring the largest number of these birds into your yard, choose a Nicotiana variety with brighter-colored flowers.

How to grow flowering tobacco

Nicotiana is an easy plant to grow provided you give it what it needs to thrive. Although technically a perennial in tropical areas, most gardeners grow this as an annual. It can easily be grown from seed by planting indoors two to four weeks before the last hard frost. You can also direct sow seeds in the garden after all chance of frost has passed. Keep in mind when planting flowering tobacco that this plant is toxic if eaten. So, make sure family pets don't take a munch and watch young children around the plants.

Flowering tobacco can be grown in full sun, but also does well in partial shade, especially in areas with hotter climates. It loves good, rich soil and monthly fertilizing to bloom at its best. Keep this plant moist as it does not tolerate drought conditions. Most pests leave this plant alone because of its toxic nature. However, the hummingbird moth likes to lay its eggs on this plant. Once hatched, these tomato hornworm caterpillars can do serious damage in a short time. If you see these pests, immediately hand-pick them or spray them with an organic pesticide meant for caterpillars.