How to Grow Your Own Tobacco | Love The Garden

How to Grow Your Own Tobacco

Hannah Gransden's picture
By Hannah Gransden, Seasonal Pro
A Field of Tobacco Plants Growing

The tobacco plant is not only a cheaper way to acquire and utilise tobacco for your own enjoyment, but it can also be a decorative plant that can add something different to your garden.

Tobacco growth for the enjoyment of smoking can be cost-effective and enjoyable at the same time. Growing also means to skip on the additives that most companies will include in their own tobacco. There are many different kinds of tobacco plant. Flue-cured, Burley, Dark-air cured and Oriental to name but a few. Flue-cured is the most common type of tobacco plant and makes up a large percentage of the tobacco plants that are grown today.  

Tobacco seeds are extremely small, so small in fact you would actually need a microscope. So the early stages of growth are made slightly harder because of this. You may be wise to let a nursery or another kind of specialist grow this plant through its infancy to then purchase the plant and then take over the general maintenance. Tobacco is a part of the solanaceae family, which is the same plant family as the tomato and pepper. Tobacco usually falls in the tabacum or nicotiana species. Nicotiana seeds are actually the more ceremonial or ornamental plant that is grown for aesthetical purposes rather than being consumed.

A close-up view of a tobacco plant

To decide which tobacco you would like to grow, we will give you a run down about a few types of tobacco seeds/plants that may help you make that decision;

Flue-cured tobacco

Mostly grown for cigarettes but some leaves may be used for pipe smoking. High in sugar and large in size. Flue-cured will sometimes be referred to as ‘bright because of its gold, orange or yellow appearance. Can be grown within 7-10 days and can grow up to 51 inches (in extreme cases!).

Burley

There are a few different varieties of Burley seed that can be used for cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking and tends to have a smooth flavour. It can be used for chewing as well. Lower in sugar.

Dark Air Cured

Usually used for either cigar or pipe smoking, but can also be chewed. High in nicotine and usually grown in a tropical environment.

Oriental

A plant that is usually used for ornamental purposes. The plant gives off an aroma and tends to have a very low nicotine content. These plants can reach a height of 5 feet (!) with a leaf size of upwards of 3 inches. The complexion of the plant ranges from yellow through to brown.

Rustica

This type of tobacco is grown in the sub-continent (India, Pakistan and a lot of the surrounding nations) mainly, as well as some parts of Africa and South America. Would be found to be smoked in water pipes.

Tobacco plants being grown in a back garden

How to grow tobacco

When planting your own tobacco, there are a few things to keep in mind. First thing to make sure of is that you have some small pots and to spread the small tobacco seeds evenly. Make sure you have a good amount of potted soil for your plantlets. Water daily but do not disturb your seeds until you have seen sufficient growth.

Tobacco seeds require a temperature which is a little higher than the average plant in the germination phase. So be sure to start growing your tobacco plant indoors as the seeds will need a temperature of around 24-27 Degrees Celsius.

You will see these seeds germinate within 7-14 days but this could take longer to occur, so do not fret if it takes 2 weeks or even 3.

Once the plantlets have reached 10mms in length, transfer to bigger pots for growth. Make sure to only feed the plantlets that are more developed or the faster growing plants. Look to use a standard or organic fertiliser as the plant needs a healthy amount of nitrogen and potash. You can always use Miracle-Gro for the growth of the plant too.

Arial view of tobacco plants growing

Image credit: Blogspot

Once transferred, make sure the plants are grown in rows which are 3 feet apart to allow for individual growth. Make sure that the soil you are using is well drained. Also the soil should be slightly acidic in nature with some suggesting that the pH level should be around 5-6. Dolomite could be used to lower the acidity of the plant.  If a flower grows on the plant, cut it off as this will be where the seeds grow. Flowers on your plant will stunt the growth of the plant. Also be sure to make sure there is no weed growth, or to pull out any weeds that do interfere with the plants growth.

A close bunch of tobacco plants growing in a field

Image credit: Students of the World

After around 4-5 months of grow, your plant should have matured. If you are looking to smoke your tobacco leaves- Make sure to then dry the leaves out by hanging them for a further 2 months in an indoor humid climate of 18 Degrees Celsius and upwards. A conservatory or greenhouse may be a good area for this! When picking your leaves, look to pick the upper canopy of leaves as these are sweeter compared to the tougher lower leaves. Make sure these leaves are dry and a golden brown. The last step is to just put those leaves through the food processor. And there you are, your very own home-grown tobacco!

Do you have your own technique to growing tobacco with success? We would love to hear about it, or better yet take some pictures and send them in to @LoveTheGarden.

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