Although many farmers grow tobacco plants for commercial purposes, these leafy plants make interesting specimens in landscapes and yards. Tobacco plants grow natively in many areas of North and South America. Historical and medicinal uses for tobacco included dressings for wounds and pain relief for toothaches. Growing and managing a small tobacco crop involves good site selection, pest control, harvesting and pruning.
Provide a sunny spot for your tobacco plants. Purchase a soil test kit to measure the pH level of the soil in the selected site. Obtain the kit from your local gardening center or university extension office. Perform the test according to the enclosed instructions. Tobacco prefers soil with a pH level around 5.8. Incorporate any soil amendments recommended by the results of your soil test kit. Add a little sand and compost to heavy soil to increase soil porosity. Tobacco thrives in well-drained soil compositions.
Purchase small seedlings to plant directly into your prepared soil. Space the plants in rows. Place each row about 4 feet apart. Plant the seedlings along each row, allowing about 2 feet distance between plants within the row. Dig small holes a little larger than the seedlings' root balls, set each plant in its hole, and gently firm the soil above the roots. Water the tobacco seedlings after planting.
Fertilize your tobacco plants with a fertilizer specified for use on tobacco or tomatoes, peppers and potato plants. All these plants share common characteristics and nutritional requirements. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer's directions. Fertilize periodically until the tobacco plants begin to produce flower buds. Remove the flower buds to encourage healthy leaf growth in plants intended for harvesting. Manage overgrowth by removing suckers from the soil near the mature plants. Pull these suckers by hand before they grow longer than an inch.
Harvest your tobacco leaves by removing mature leaves from the plant as they appear. Avoid disturbing the plant by snipping individual leaves with sharp scissors. Harvest every week or two, by cutting the lowest leaves from the plant during each session. Expect to perform four or five harvests each year.