Nicotiana tabacum requires many essential elements in order for survival including: carbon, nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, copper, zinc, and chlorine. The main flow of all these nutrients is from the roots, through the stem, and eventually to the leaves. The top of the plant which produces the flowers is the main destination for all of the nutrients.
Carbon makes up about 40 percent of the dry tobacco leaf right after it has been cured.
Nitrogen is a very important element in the growth and quality of the tobacco leaf. Nitrogen has a major role in the content of nicotine, chlorophyll, and other important substances in the leaf that are essential for growth. Some signs of nitrogen deficiency are when the leaves are more of a pale yellow versus a bright green color. The growth of the plant could also be affected resulting in flowering off schedule along with reduction in leaf size. If the plant is allowed excess nitrogen it will store it as plastic carbohydrates which will serve as a reserve food supply in undesirable times.
Tobacco requires a large amount of potassium to reach a healthy and mature plant. When potassium levels are not up to par the plant will develop cankers of dead tissue forming on the plant body, and the tips of the leaves will turn a brownish color. When a surplus of potassium is present, the tobacco plant will use this in order to protect itself against desiccation.
Phosphorus is very important to the overall growth of tobacco. The plant absorbs phosphorus in its highly oxidized form turning it into protein, lecithin, carbohydrates, and other compounds that are either stored or used right away for development. The main symptoms for phosphorus deficiency include the slowing down of overall growth and development clustered with the formation of abnormalities in the plant. For example, brown spots can begin to form on the leaves to tobacco showing that it is not receiving the needed quantities of phosphorus.
Calcium is also an important element in the growing of Nicotiana tabacum. When there is calcium deficiency, the leaves of the plant will shrivel up to various degrees depending on how low the calcium levels are in the plant.