Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Tree Tobacco



The challenge with "tree" tobacco is that it would like to live up to its name—to grow into its name, as it were, by becoming a small tree. So despite some pinching and pruning, the canopy of mine didn't begin until seven feet above the ground. It's not easy to maneuver anything with a canopy that high into a greenhouse, and this Fall, my motto was "Prune It or Lose It."


So far, so good. Before I'd so much as moved the pot onto a hand truck, I lopped off the canopy and the top three or four feet of trunk. I cut the tree tobacco in half, in other words. What had been a gawky oddity eight feet tall and more, was now a potted and leafless four-foot sapling.


I moved the pot into the greenhouse—easily!—and said, "What will happen, will happen." Even though the days only get shorter in the Fall, and the temperatures cooler, Nicotiana glauca didn't remain lopped-and-leafless for more than a month. Instead, dense heads of foliage emerged, determined to take advantage of what heat and light there were as the season ramped down to the year's darkest days of December.   




To keep this four-foot "tree" tobacco to five or six feet instead of eight or night, I'll be Mr. Pincher from now through June.  As soon as any new stem has more than three pairs of new leaves, I'll pinch it so as to remove the last two pairs. 


The experiment will be to determine just how bushy the canopy of this little tree can become before June. Then I'll let all the stems grow free-range, so that each can develop the plant's unique terminal clusters of yellow flowers. They attract hummingbirds all Summer, and produce thousands of dust-like seeds (not hardy here in New England, thank goodness) that I can collect and give to friends eager to experiment with their own tree tobacco.


By Fall, I can prune the tree back as brutally as need or whim allows.


Here's how to grow tree tobacco.


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