Characteristics of the plant
Tobacco belongs to the nightshade or nightshade family. This family includes tomato, pepper, eggplant, Irish potato, and a number of other plants. Tobacco belongs to the Nicotiana genus and almost all commercial tobaccos are of the tabacum species. The Nicotiana rustica species was commonly used by American Indians and is still used today by some cultures for ceremonial purposes.
Tobacco should be grown in a sunny location on well-drained soils, poorly drained soils could cause poor growth and even death of plants. Drought stress could limit growth on over-drained soils unless irrigation is provided. Lack of sun will result in slender plants, poor growth, and thin leaves. Some types of tobacco, such as that used to roll cigars, are grown under some shade to promote desirable foliar characteristics.
Avoid planting tobacco on soil infested with disease nematodes. Herbs would be excellent rotations for tobacco, while tomato, pepper, and similar plants would not be suitable. In addition to soilborne pests, various viral diseases and insects that attack tomato and pepper also attack tobacco, so try to keep these plants in different areas of the garden.
The soil pH should be around 5.8 for best tobacco growth. If lime is needed to raise the pH, use dolomite to get the magnesium nutrient that is important for plant growth. Poor growth and some growth disturbances can occur if the soil pH is around 6.5 or higher.
Since tobacco seeds are very small (300,000 or more per ounce), they should be sown in a greenhouse or protected area. The soil should be free of grass seeds and pathogenic organisms. A flower pot would be a satisfying container if only a few transplants are needed. Sprinkle the seed on the soil surface, then firm the soil surface to ensure good contact with the soil. Irrigate with a very fine spray or add water to a saucer under the flowerpot. Add water as often as necessary to keep the soil surface moist, but avoid waterlogging.
A tobacco fertilizer should contain little or no chlorine and most of the nitrogen should be in the form of nitrate. The fertilizer produced for tomato, pepper and potato should be satisfactory for tobacco.
The seed should be sown approximately 50-60 days before the desired field transplant date. The transplant should be done after there is no further danger of frost. Normally the best transplant is when the seedling has reached about 15-20 cm in length.
Transplant in the Field
Transplanting tobacco is very similar to transplanting other garden plants. Mulch and provide drainage by settling the soil. If rows are used, space the plants about 60 cm apart. The rows should be between 100 and 120 cm apart. Water the plants after transplanting and as needed during the season.