Nicotiana benthamiana is an erect, sometimes sprawling, annual herb native to Australia. This short-lived herb will reach from 0.65-5 feet (0.2-1.5 m) tall. Grown in containers, the plants rarely reach over 18 inches (0.45 m) tall by about half as wide. The dark green, broadly ovate leaves will reach up to 4 inches (10 cm) wide by 5 inches (12.7 cm) long. We selected this plant to use for TMV research because it is very susceptible to all kinds of viruses. Plants are easy to grow and we always keep several different ages of plants available at all times.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, plants flower all year round, but in nature, they normally bloom from May-September. The small, white flowers are 3/8 inch (1 cm) across by 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long.
Culture: Nicotiana benthamiana need full sun to partial shade using a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part coarse sand or perlite. Since we grow these plants for research, they are given water on a daily basis to keep them stress free. They are fertilized weekly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label. Since we have to have these plants for research, once they set seed, plants are discarded. During the winter months, we use supplemental lighting to keep the plants growing strong.
Propagation: Nicotiana benthamiana is best propagated from seed.
Nicotiana benthamiana was featured as Plant of the Week September 7-13, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.