How to Plant and Grow Tobacco

Curing Tobacco

If you have ever read the book One Second After, you would remember when the main character John told the convenience store clerk after an EMP strike, “Hold on to those cigarettes, they will be worth their weight in gold soon.” I really found this amusing because the book takes place in North Carolina, tobacco capital of the world.

It’s reasonable to assume they just didn’t have the seeds to cultivate new crops. Anyway, before I turn this article into a book review, let me get to the point.

I have been on a mission to start growing some new crops that are not very popular, but I believe they are necessary for both survival situations and just plain old self-sufficiency.

One of those crops is tobacco leaves.

Surprisingly, the seeds were not that much, only a few bucks on Amazon. Over the past several weeks, I have been reading up on how to actually grow this precious doomsday commodity. So I thought I would share what I have learned so far and hopefully follow up in the future with some pics and a few cigars.

Growing Tobacco at Home

Planting and growing tobacco is much the same as growing any type of garden vegetable and it’s just as easy too. The best thing about growing your own tobacco (besides saving money) is knowing you are getting the pure thing without additives. Use these guidelines and get started growing your own tobacco this spring.

Start Seeds

Tobacco seeds are very small and need light in order to germinate. Start your seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last predicted frost date. Use flat trays that are 4-6 inches deep and fill them with a good quality potting soil that contains compost. Water the potting soil well and allow all excess water to drain away.

Sprinkle tobacco seeds on top of the damp potting soil, do not cover seeds or pat seeds down into the soil. Place seed tray in a warm, bright location, near a sunny window, in a propagator, or under a grow light. Do not let the soil dry out, and make sure the seeds remain in a warm, bright location until they germinate.

Seed germination time is dependent upon the temperature and amount of light they receive. Under ideal conditions, the tobacco seeds will germinate in 7 days. If the temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the seeds will take a few extra days to germinate.

First Transplant

When tobacco plants are 2-3 inches tall, they should be transplanted into individual pots to await being transplanted outdoors.

If the seeds were not sown too thickly and plants have enough growing space in their original seed tray, this step can be by-passed. However, if seedlings become crowded in the tray the plants won’t be as healthy and will be more likely to die after transplanting outdoors.

Seedlings can be transplanted into prepared garden soil after all danger of frost has passed in the spring.

Planting Location

Tobacco plants prefer to grow in partial shade and well-draining soil. Till soil to the depth of 8-10 inches and work in 3-4 inches of compost.

Setting out Plants

Create rows in prepared soil that are 4 inches deep and 3 feet apart. Choose a cloudy day for this step so tender plants won’t be exposed to direct sunlight. Set tobacco plants in the rows 2 feet apart, water and cover roots with soil.

After Planting

Established tobacco plants grow rapidly and are heavy feeders. The plants will need a side-dressing application of nitrogen and potash during the growing season.

Developing tobacco plants need to be suckered to keep the plant’s energy going into the main stem and not the inferior quality off-shoots.

Tobacco will be ready to harvest in 60-90 days after seeds were sown.


Curing tobacco has always been a process necessary to prepare the leaf for consumption. The aging process continues for a period of months and often extends into the post-curing harvest process.