Tobacco is a plant that’s easy to grow and doesn’t require much maintenance, but it does need some attention.
If you’re ready to try your hand at tobacco growing, the following tips will help you get started.
You will need good quality seeds that will need to be planted in pots of well drained compost. Water well and place in a warm area until they germinate. When two leaves form transplant carefully into 2 inch pots of compost. After all frost has passed the plants can be planted in a sunny spot outdoors.
Where can I get tobacco plant seeds from?
Tobacco plant seeds are widely available online. The most common types of tobacco are the Virginia cigar variety and flue cured type favoured by cigarette manufacturers.
You can find tobacco seeds on Amazon with some great deals available such as these Kentucky Brown Burley Tobacco seeds.
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How much space do I need for growing tobacco?
Growing tobacco is quite an easy process. To grow just one plant you will need a 4ft x 2ft area.
If you’re growing in the ground you’ll need ten feet squared. Growing tobacco can be done indoors in smaller areas if desired.
If growing tobacco outdoors, make sure you choose a sunny spot with good drainage and rich soil.
If the leaves of your plant start to droop or curl it could be because there is too much water or not enough drainage.
Preparing the plant area for tobacco
Prepare the area where you will be growing tobacco a couple months before planting your seeds.
Till the soil and remove rocks, weeds etc from the garden bed.
The best soil type for tobacco is a well draining, free flowing loam that is slightly acidic.
You can add compost or bark chippings to improve the drainage and raise acidity levels if required.
How to germinate tobacco seeds?
Germinating tobacco seeds is pretty straight forward as long as the soil is warm and moist but not soggy.
The ideal temperature to germinate seeds would be 70 degrees F although starting them at 65 can work.
To start, get a plastic 4 inch pots and fill with a good well drained seedling compost.
Tobacco seeds are very fine and you should sprinkle them by hand and mix them into the compost.
The soil needs to be evenly moist but not wet as this will cause the seeds to rot in the ground or pot.
Keep the pots in a warm place until the seeds sprout.
How do I transfer tobacco seedlings into the garden?
Once the tobacco plants are one or two inches high and have several leaves you can transplant them.
The best way to do this is to dig a hole about twice the size of the pot then gently pull out the plant taking care not to damage it’s roots.
You’ll need firm but well drained soil that has been prepared for months beforehand.
To get the plant into the ground you need to dig a hole and remove any large stones as tobacco plants are very delicate.
Make sure that the area around the roots is not compressed or damaged in any way.
Place your transplant into a hole the same size as it was in its pot.
Add compost and gently firm down, place a large stone on to protect the plant from wind damage and water well.
How to grow tobacco indoors?
Growing tobacco indoors is a bit more complex than growing outdoors but it’s not impossible.
You will need at least 4ft of space although you can get away with less if you use a hydroponics system such as this one.
You will also need a large pot (12 inch diameter) of loose compost.
Most tobacco plants can live without additional nutrients but during the initial growing period you can use a liquid fertilizer at half strength for tomatoes.
Once they are established they won’t need further feeding.
Tobacco plants can be grown in large containers such as a 14 inch pot or you could plant them directly into the ground.
What else should I know when growing tobacco plants?
Since tobacco is a flowering plant, it will need bees and other insects in order to pollinate the flowers if you are growing the plant for seeds.
For most growers though, the leaves are where the interest lies and, as soon as you see flowers appearing you should pinch tout the buds.
This ensures that the plant’s resources are spent on the leaves and growth, as opposed to producing flowers and seeds.
Watering tobacco plants
To help with your watering needs make sure to get a good quality hose that can reach all areas of the plant.
Plants need plenty of water so you will be doing this daily especially during hot weather.
Whilst growing tobacco it is recommended to grow some kind of support for your plants such as trellises or stakes.
Fertilizing tobacco plants
Tobacco is a heavy feeder, so be sure to fertilize your plants regularly in order to produce high yields.
You can do this after the second set of leaves have appeared.
Apply slow burning nutrients at half strength during the growing season and then once more before harvesting.
Plants naturally attract insects such as aphids, but you can deter them by spraying an organic oil based spray around the base of your plants when they first start to grow.
You should also get a good chemical free insecticidal soap from your local garden center and spray the leaves of your plant regularly.
When should tobacco plants be harvested?
Tobacco plants are ready for harvest when most of the leaves have turned brown in colour, but some yellowing is acceptable.
The best way to harvest is with a sharp knife or gardening shears.
However, in order at not to damage the plant it’s recommended that you don’t cut all of the leaves from one side.
Instead do this gradually over two weeks so as not to stress the plant too much.
How can I preserve my tobacco plants?
As soon as your tobacco plants have been harvested it’s best to hang them up in a cool dark place with plenty of air circulating around them.
Whilst drying the leaves they should be rotated regularly so that the drying process is even.
After four days, the leaves are ready to be placed in a storage container, such as a paper bag or an airtight plastic container.
How long will my tobacco leaves last?
Leaves can last up to one year, but it’s best not to leave them for too long since the will lose their flavour and aroma.
It’s best to store your dried tobacco in airtight containers out of direct sunlight.
This ensures that they don’t lose their aroma and flavour, as well as protecting them from insects and bugs etc.
If you’ve stored your leaves correctly then they should last for up to five years.
Growing tobacco plants is a fascinating process.
There are many factors that can affect the final quality of your leaves, including soil type and temperature.
It’s certainly a rewarding plant to grow if you like tobacco.