Tobacco seeds are extremely tiny and can be difficult to plant. While an experienced gardener might be able to sprinkle the seeds from her fingers without too heavy a hand, most people tend to sow small seeds too densely this way. Germinated tobacco seeds that are sown too close together are hard to pick out without disturbing the roots of the plants you want to keep, and densely sown seedlings are more prone to disease. You also waste seed by sowing too much.
Sow tobacco seeds indoors in a warm place four to six weeks before the last frost date. Tobacco needs temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees F to get started.
Fill your flats or pots with a light potting mix. Ohio State University Extension Service recommends a mixture of 1/3 soil, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 sand or vermiculite. Moisten the potting mix well.
Sow a large number of seeds with a salt shaker. Test the shaker first to make sure the salt sprinkles out and doesn't pour out. A tobacco seed is about the size of a single grain of salt. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface of the flats or pots. The color of the seeds allows you to see how many are on the soil. Aim for about one seed per 1/2 inch of soil.
If you just want two or three tobacco plants, sprinkle a few seeds onto a clean, dry saucer. Put a few drops of water into another saucer. Dip the end of a toothpick into the water and use it to pick up one or two seeds. Swipe the toothpick gently onto the soil surface to transfer the seeds.
Water the seeds in very gently. Do not cover the seeds with soil, because tiny tobacco seeds need a lot of light to germinate. If you don't have a way to water them gently enough without flooding them or pressing them into the soil, water them from below with a filled saucer or tray.
When the seeds have their first set of true leaves (usually after about two weeks), thin them out to 1 or 1 ½ inches between each plant.