Tobacco has been used as a recreational drug, for a very long time. Derived through processing of the leaves of the plants in the genus Nicotiana, tobacco is mainly used for smoking. It is used in some drugs, and is also used as a pesticide. Different species of tobacco plants belong to the family Solanaceae, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and chili peppers. While tobacco is commercially cultivated in many parts of the world, some people grow them at home, either for personal use or as an ornamental plant.
Tobacco plants have a lush green foliage, and produce attractive flowers. So, they can be grown for ornamental purposes. Another advantage is that they can grow in different types of soil, but the nature of foliage may vary with the location. However, special care is required in germinating the seeds, transplanting, and protecting the plants from diseases.
- First of all, you have to obtain the seeds or young plants. This will be easy for you, if you have access to tobacco farmers. Otherwise, you can purchase them online. For ornamental purposes, jasmine and rose tobacco are more suitable, as they produce attractive flowers.
- Being tiny in nature, tobacco seeds have to be stored indoors, in a covered container. Usually, sowing is done a month before the last frost.
- Take a seed tray, and fill it with a potting mix made from equal amounts of potting soil and humus. Sprinkle some water over the soil and spread the seeds over it.
- Keep the tray in a propagator for a few days. Otherwise, place the tray in a cupboard with a temperature of 70 to 80° F.
- Seedlings will appear within eight to ten days, and from this stage, you have to keep them in a location with a lower temperature of around 55° F.
- After a few weeks, you can plant them outdoors. You may also grow them indoors, but these plants may not grow as healthy as the outdoor ones.
- In order to grow this plant outdoors, you have to till the soil and fertilize beforehand. Tobacco plants love bright sunlight and so, prefer locations that fulfill this requirement. Cold climates are not suitable for these plants.
- Plant them at a distance of around two feet. Regular watering is also a must. Fertilizers for tobacco must be rich in nitrogen and potash. You may also replace such fertilizers with wood ash.
- Another important aspect is the timely removal of suckers (buds that arise from the base of leaves) and terminal buds, so that the leaves grow big and healthy. This is applicable for those who grow this plant for personal use, and not for ornamental purposes.
- While root rot and mosaic disease may occur in these plants, it is the pest called hawk moth that can cause severe harm. Its caterpillar can cause immense damage to the plant and so, this pest should be controlled.
- After a growth of three to four months, the leaves will get big enough for harvest. At that time, you can remove the leaves, and dry them for further use.
As of now, in most places, buying and selling of tobacco seeds and growing tobacco plants (for personal use) is not illegal. However, make sure that it is not illegal, as per the local laws. If you are interested in growing this plant for personal use, watch out for the rules and regulations regarding tobacco and tobacco products. Buying or selling products made from your plants may land in you in legal trouble.