How To Grow Your Own Tobacco

Growing your own tobacco is not only a great way of saving money: it also allows you to grow a product that’s free of pesticides and additives, and you are the one to decide what the outcome of the final product will look like. Do you want a strong and tasty leaf for rolling the perfect cigar, or do you prefer a soft smoke with a fine-cut leaf to make your own RYO (roll-your-own) tobacco, or shag? In this blog we’ll show you exactly how to grow your own tobacco from seeds to the final product, and we’ll explain how you can influence the quality and end product at every step of the process.


Why grow your own tobacco

Growing tobacco yourself has various benefits: first of all, it’s fun! Growing your own plant from seed to leaf (and then drying, curing and cutting the leaf) is a very satisfying process that will definitely make the smoke of your end product much more enjoyable than when you simply buy a pack of shag or cigarettes from your local tobacco store. 


Reasons to grow your own tobacco:

  1. Growing your own tobacco is fun
  2. It can save you lots of money
  3. You can make your own tobacco products (shag, cigarettes, shisha)
  4. You decide which additives you (don't) want to use (and for example: pesticide-free)
  5. You control every aspect of the end product


Reasons not to grow tobacco:

  1. It can be challenging to grow tobacco plants properly and get big yields
  2. You may not live in the right climate (too cold or wet)
  3. You need enough space for large pots and/or open ground in the garden
  4. Smoking is bad for you!


Step one: buying the right seeds

When buying tobacco seeds on the internet, it quickly becomes clear that buying tobacco seeds is not as easy as it may sound. It’s not difficult either, and the seeds are widely available, but the fact that there are different varieties of tobacco makes it important that you do some research before buying the seeds. Don’t worry: all the research you’ll need to do, is read this page. There are a few varieties of tobacco:

  1. Nicotiana Tabacum
  2. Nicotiana Rustica (Mapacho, Wild Tobacco)
  3. Nicotiana Glauca (Tree Tobacco)
  4. Nicotiana Sylvestris (Mountain Tobacco)

If you’re growing tobacco for the production of a smoke-able leaf, you’ll normally want to go with the first variety stated above, called “Nicotiana Tabacum”. This is the regular strain of tobacco grown around the world under various names such as “Virginia” or “Burley”, depending on the production process and the specific traits of the plant. In other words, all normal commercial tobacco grown under different names is part of the “Nicotiana Tabacum” strain. This the type of tobacco that you’ll want to grow for smoking, in most cases.

The second most interesting variety is Nicotiana Rustica, also known as Mapacho or Wild Tobacco. These plants remain smaller than the normal tobacco plants, but contain a much higher level of nicotine (according to many sources, the Nicotiana Rustica can easily contain more than 20 times as much nicotine as other tobacco varieties). This makes it unfit for normal daily use, but the high nicotine content does make it attractive for some other purposes. For example, Mapacho has been used by indigenous tribes in America in rituals and ceremonies for thousands of years. However, the plant has been grown and used in many other countries around the world as well. Some people like to smoke Mapacho in a bong, because the high nicotine levels give a cheap “high” that some people find extremely relaxing. The high levels of nicotine, however, can also cause unwanted side effects such as nausea and stomach aches. In high quantities, this can even be dangerous. There have been some attemps to make a hybrid of the Nicotiana Tabacum and Nicotiana Rustica tobacco varieties to boost the level of nicotine in tobacco products, and from this, the highly controversial “Y1 tobacco” strain was born. Part of this story is portrayed in the fantastic 1999 movie “The Insider”. 

Nicotiana Glauca is a less well-known variety of tobacco, but it’s very common as a roadside plant in many parts of the world, especially in warmer climates. The plant is native to South America and has been used for smoking, although it contains the toxic alkaloid anabasine and ingestion of the leaves can be fatal. The plants can easily grow to heights of over 3 meters tall. It’s also known as blue-green tobacco, tree tobacco, palancho, tabaco moro, and tobacco tree. It can be dangerous or even deadly to animals or humans that ingest the leaves. On the other hand, it has been used for medical purposes as well.

Nicotiana Sylvestris 

Then, there are many different subspecies or sub varieties within these varieties with minor differences. This can be compared to marijuana, where you basically have the three varieties Indica, Sativa and Ruderalis, but there are thousands of “strains” (crosses/hybrids) that all have their own specific traits. This is part of the fun of growing tobacco (and marijuana): it allows you to experiment with different varieties until you find the one that’s exactly right for you. Or you can grow multiple different varieties and then make your own blends of different leaves. If you just want to grow some tobacco, get the Nicotiana Tabacum seeds and don’t overthink it. Or… . It’s all up to you!


tobacco seeds

tobacco seeds are really tiny (one gram contains about 10.000 seeds!), so you sow many of them at the same time


Step two: germinating the tobacco seeds

Germinating tobacco seeds is not difficult, but there are some steps that you should follow in order to get a good result. These are the things you’ll need to start growing tobacco:

  1. tobacco seeds
  2. potting soil (sowing soil)
  3. water
  4. plant containers
  5. plastic foil (kitchen foil)

There are various ways to go at it, but here, we will describe the regular process that professional tobacco plantations normally follow. If you’re planning to grow your tobacco plants in pots, make sure that you have large pots(30+ liters, preferably even more) where the roots can fully develop so that you’ll get large, healthy plants. If you’re growing tobacco in open ground, just make sure that the soil is not too dense and allows for root growth (if needed, mix some perlite and coarse sand in the ground).

Whichever way you choose, the beginning is the same. To sow the tobacco seeds, you’ll need a container for the sowing soil and some plastic kitchen foil to cover it up after sowing. The first pot needs to be only shallow, because after the plants have grown a little, we will separate them and put each plant in individual places (whether pots or open ground). So let’s begin: take your (shallow if possible, but not required) container and add some potting soil or sowing soil. Then moisten the ground by adding water, but don’t overdo it! Then let the ground absorb the water for a few minutes. You’ll notice that the ground gets a little dense from the water: stir up the upper layer a bit to make it more open and airy. Now you’re ready to plant the tobacco seeds! The seeds are incredibly small, so just take a number of them in your hands and spread them through the soil like you would with pepper or salt over a meal. Make sure they’re evenly spread out. Because you’ve opened up the wet soil earlier, the seeds will automatically fall inbetween the chunks and position themselves. Now, simply leave it like this, and cover the container with the plastic kitchen foil to make sure the soil stays moist and the humidity stays high while the seeds begin their life.

When to sow tobacco seeds? You can start sowing early in the year in most climates, but you’ll need to start indoors to protect the plants from the cold. In some climates, you can sow and grow tobacco seeds all year round. Remember that you’ll want to give the plants a chance to grow to a decent size, so you’ll have to start early enough to give them enough time to grow before the season ends and cold weather returns.


planting tobacco seeds

Sowing tobacco seeds: the owner of this garden looks satisfied!


After the seeds have sprouted, you’ll see some small green plants appearing over the next days. Remove the foil, keep the ground moist (not wet), and when the plants have grown to about one or two inches tall, it’s time to move them to their final position (the large pot, or open ground). 

Transplanting tobacco seedlings to their final position. This is not a difficult job, but make sure to be careful in order to keep the roots intact. 


Tobacco growing conditions

To get strong and healthy tobacco plants with big, tasty leaves, it is vital to provide the plants with ideal conditions for their growth. The four biggest and most important factors are enough sunlight, enough space (both for the plant itself and for the roots), enough nutrients (although not too much) and enough water (also not too much). Knowing how much of these factors are required is a matter of experience and common sense, but if you keep an eye on these factors, your plants will surely do well. Just imagine the conditions on a simple, traditional Cuban or Nicaraguan tobacco farm, and try to imitate them in your garden or plantation. Growing tobacco is not difficult as long as you provide the plant with all its necessities.



sprouting tobacco seeds





Step three: harvesting tobacco

This part of the blog is not finished yet. Please come back later. Sorry!

Here you'll find information about: Which leaves to harvest, and when? What are the proper techniques to harvest tobacco leaves? How do you know when a leaf is ready for harvest?


Step four: drying tobacco

The process of drying and curing tobacco may be the most intimidating part of the whole growing process, and there’s a good reason for that: drying and curing tobacco is where you’ll make or break the final product. Even though drying tobacco leaves is not hard, it is easy to do wrong. Having said that, there are different methods of drying and curing fresh tobacco leaves, so there are various ways of doing it correctly. Here’s a overview of some of the ways tobacco is normally dried and cured:

—----OVERVIEW WAYS OF CURING—-----------


After drying your tobacco: cutting the leaves

Now it’s getting really exciting! We’re getting close to the end product of our tobacco cultivation process. Now it really depends on what exactly you’re planning to do with the tobacco. If you want to make shag or RYO (roll-your-own) tobacco, the process is different from making cigars, for example. 

Because we’re stoners, we will also explore some of the options to make weed-related tobacco products. One famous and popular example is making your own blunts from fresh tobacco leaves. A blunt is a cigar filled with marijuana (definitions vary, but for now we’ll call a blunt a cigar with weed inside). How to make your own blunts with tobacco leaves? Let’s do it!



Another very common way of using tobacco with weed, is by mixing it in a joint or spliff (a weed-cigarette). There are various ways to do this, and there is no “best way” for everyone. Or actually, everyone has their own best way. Many stoners like to use shag (fine-cut rolling tobacco that burns slowly) for their joints, but you can also use volume tobacco (such as the tobacco used in cigarettes) or flakes. Read on below to discover some of the ways to make different RYO (roll-your-own) tobacco products such as shag and flakes.



(included links to videos that are saved, or re-upload videos ourselves on Rumble) about tobacco propduction


How to make shisha tobacco from leaves

But there are many more ways of processing tobacco into a final product. Let’s have a look at turning tobacco leaves into shisha tobacco (how to make shisha tobacco from leaves). Other names for shisha tobacco are “molasses”, ”melazas” and “hookah tobacco”.  Shisha tobacco is the type of tobacco used for smoking in a hookah (shisha, narguile). Most types of shisha tobacco are much more “wet” than regular tobacco, because of additives used to make the tobacco last longer and for it to produce a very thick smoke. Often, flavours are added to make it taste more fruity. 


A step-by-step guide of turning tobacco leaf into shisha:

  • Press several dried leaves together (on top of each other)
  • Cut the leaves into fine pieces
  • Add Hookah Juice shisha additives (LINK TO BONGIFY PRODUCT PAGE)
  • Mix the leaves and additives, adding a little water if needed
  • Store in a closed container for 24 hours, and your shisha is ready


With the Hookah Juice additives for shisha, making your own shisha becomes easier than ever before. You can use this same process to turn marijuana into shisha tobacco (read our other blogs for more information on this subject).

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