Learning Download: How to Grow Tobacco

From Seed to Harvest: A beginner’s guide to growing tobacco

Tobacco is usually grown in home gardens so gardeners can harvest the plant and know it has no additives. The efforts of growing tobacco began hundreds of years ago, but its popularity has decreased over the years due to health concerns. Tobacco also is grown personally for its ornamental appearance. It is a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and peppers as well. Tobacco is typically a warm-weather plant. 

To plant:

The tobacco seed is very small, so it must be started indoors. To germinate, it requires a temperature of at least 65 degrees. Begin the seed in seed compost and not potting mix six weeks before the last frost. When planting, place the seed on top of the compost and do not cover it. In addition to warmer temps, it also requires light to germinate. Mist the seeds with a mister water bottle.

To grow:

Seedlings are ready to be transplanted once they reach 8 inches in height. Transplant them after all dangers of frost have passed To grow its broad leaves, tobacco plants require full sun. If it grows partial sun, its leaves will be skinny. Tobacco prefers soil with a pH of 5.8 and well-drained soils. Space the transplants 2 feet apart from each other in rows set 3 feet apart. 

Transplant them in the evening to prevent the plants from drying out and water thoroughly after transplanting. Once transplanted, water the tobacco plant daily until it becomes established. Once flowers and suckers appear on the plant, remove them to encourage more growth in the tobacco leaves.


To harvest:

Tobacco plants can be harvested by cutting down the entire plant at once or by pulling individual leaves from the plant. Tobacco leaves are ready to harvest from the ground up. Once harvested, the leaves are dried through a process called curing. Curing can be down by air, where it is hung in a barn, or two other ways — flue-cured tobacco and sun-cured tobacco.

To make flue-cured tobacco, the leaves are added to tobacco sticks which are then hung in a barn’s kiln, which will heat cure the tobacco but not expose it to smoke. To sun cure tobacco, the leaves are placed in the sun and dried.

What tobacco craves:

To fertilize tobacco, use the same fertilizers used for tomatoes or peppers. Fertilizer should contain no chlorine and its nitrogen should be in nitrate form. Apply the fertilizer over several separate instance, such as applying it to the soil before transplanting and continuously throughout the tobacco’s growing season to keep the leaves a solid green color. Once flowers begin to form, stop the fertilization process. 

Where to buy tobacco seeds:

You can find different varieties of tobacco seeds at Urban Farmer.