Last year I grew several nicotiana that I was familiar with but this year I tried a new one. The reason was that I saw it growing at Mount Usher and wanted to copy their scheme of this plant with blue chicory. Well the chicory has yet to bloom but Nicotiana mutabilis has been in flower for several weeks and is getting bigger and better. The name mutabilis means changing and in this case it refers to the flower colour. The blooms open white but change to pale pink and then rose before they drop. So the stems always have three colours open at once. It is a robust plant that is reaching 1.2m with its stems so far but I would not be surprised if it got bigger and as the stems branch it is filling out – I think this is a slow burner and will be at its best in autumn. I started by sowing the seeds in March in the greenhouse and the plants were set out in late May.
It is native to Brazil and I think it is relatively new to cultivation but I won’t put any money on that! There is a cv. called ‘Marshmallow’ that may be the same thing. ‘Marshmallow’ is suppose to be fragrant which I am pretty sure N. mutabilis is not – as far as my nose can tell. It also seems to have slightly more pointed petal tips so perhaps it is a hybrid.
Anyway, N. mutabilis is a good, large plant with airy growth producing a cloud of small flowers that would look perfect with Verbena bonariensis and, I hope, my blue chicory.