Nicotiana tabacum is a sticky, thick-leaved perennial that can reach up to six feet in height. Hardy to Zone 8, this is the preferred species of the tobacco industry. Its sweet-scented, highly ornamental flowers are white to pink and are pollinated by bees and butterflies. Tobacco juice may used as a pesticide, although nicotiana rustica, which is the highest in nicotine, is normally preferred for that purpose. Despite its recreational popularity, tobacco was traditionally considered a medicine. For medicinal purposes, though, it was often used externally and absorbed through the skin. For example, it was applied to the skin to relive pain, such as would accompany insect bites and stings. Kentucky Burley is a high-yielding variety that produces a high-quality tobacco. It has the added benefit of being disease resistant. Burley tobacco is typically air dried and is low in sugar but high in nicotine.
Growing Information:Seeds should be surface sown in fertile, well-draining loam in full sun. The soil should be deeply tilled. They are best off being direct sown after any danger of frost or sown in trofts outside and transplanted to the ground when about two inches tall. They can also be started indoors for an early start. This also helps prevent them from being carried away by the wind or water. Tabacum is considered a perennial in warmer climates, but can be grown elsewhere as an annual. Thin plants to about two feet apart, and cut off the flowering tops to increase leaf size. Flowering requires 14 hours of daylight to begin. Remove dead flowers to encourage new ones to emerge. Regular fertilization is recommended. Germination typically takes 10-20 days.