Garden Expert999 is a keen amateur gardener who has spent a lifetime pottering about in the garden, when she gets the time.
Can You Plant Sesame Seeds From the Store?
I often use sesame seeds in cooking, straight from a shop-bought container. One day, I thought to myself, "These are seeds. I wonder if they will grow?" It turns out that the answer is yes!
How I Grew the Seeds
I took a handful of sesame seeds and placed them on top of a compost-filled container, and I watered them well. I then left the pot on a sunny window shelf and watered it when it looked dry. Within days—and I mean days, not weeks—lots of little green shoots poked through the surface of the soil.
Like all little plants, they made a mad stretch towards the sun, and I made sure they had enough water and turned their pot often to try to keep them growing upwards. I was so proud of my little sesame plants, and I was looking forward to seeing what kind of plant they would turn into (a sesame plant, obviously!—but as I had never seen one before, I didn't know what to expect).
Why My Plants Died (Learn From My Mistakes!)
Those little plants grew rapidly, and then disaster struck. They wilted. They suffered from damping-off, which is a fungus that affects young plants when they are not given enough air circulation. Sometimes there is no cause. My sesame plants died.
However, I will try again! Before that, I wish to share with you what I have since learned about how to grow sesame plants from seed, shop-bought or otherwise. Still, it's good to know that the sesame seeds in our kitchen cupboards have not been treated and can still grow.
What to Know Before You Try Planting Sesame Seeds
Sesame plants can grow to be 20–60 inches tall (1.6 feet to 5 feet), though the size depends on the variety and where they're grown. So, if you plan to grow one or two plants at home, don't bother planting loads of seeds; just plant a few (this will help prevent the air circulation problem I encountered).
These plants are annuals, which means that, in one year, they will sprout, grow, flower and produce seed, then die.
Water, Sunlight and Heat Requirements
Sesame is known as a survivor crop. It survives without water. I probably overwatered mine.
Outdoors, it grows best in equatorial and subtropical climates. I live in a subtropical climate, which has the heat without the water. Equatorial climates are damp, like equatorial rainforests. In contrast, many subtropical regions are arid.
However, even if you live in a polar region, you can grow sesame indoors if you can provide the light and warmth it needs. Sesame likes plenty of sun and heat. So, it will grow quite well on a sunny window shelf in a centrally heated home—at least to start with.
When Will the Sesame Seedlings Flower?
If you have taken good care of your germinated sesame seedlings and not allowed them to die, they should flower in about six weeks. Keep this in mind if you start the seeds in a seed tray or a small pot; you'll likely need to repot them as they grow (or move them outdoors, if you live in the right climate).
The flowers are white to pale rose, depending on the variety. It will be fun for you to see what color you get, since you just bought 'sesame seeds' for the kitchen and likely have no idea what variety you've grown.
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About the Flowers and Leaves
The flowers develop in the leaf axils. The leaves themselves will vary depending on the variety of sesame you have. The leaves can have different shapes and sizes, and some will be evenly spaced while others alternate on the branches (again, depending on type).
If you are lucky, yours will have leaves positioned evenly, opposite from each other. This type is said to produce more flowers, and more flowers means more seed capsules, which means more seeds!
How Do the Plants Get Pollinated?
Sesame plants are self-pollinated, which means you don't actually need more than one plant for pollination to occur. Insects can also cross-pollinate the plants. So, if you have two or more plants, you could wind up with some interesting seeds to plant the next year!
How to Collect the Sesame Seeds
The seed pods, which start developing after pollination, take 6–8 weeks to mature. You'll know when a seed pod is ripe for picking because it will wrinkle up and die and become easily removable from the parent plant.
The lighter-colored seeds are the best ones to keep for the kitchen (unless you're growing black sesame seeds, of course!). Just spread them out on kitchen paper and place them in a warm environment for a week or two to make sure they are completely dry.
After drying the seeds, you can bottle them up for future use in the kitchen or save them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for planting outside in the spring.
Are You Going to Try Growing Sesame at Home?
If this article has inspired you to try planting some of your own seeds, good luck with it! I wish you a delicious harvest of sesame seeds—or, at the very least, a healthy plant to enjoy and admire.
Other Fun Seeds to Grow and Harvest
- How to Harvest and Roast Sunflower Seeds
There is no need to buy sunflower seeds at the grocery store when you can dry roast seeds yourself. Harvesting and roasting your own seeds is fun and the perfect way to wrap up your summer growing season.
- How I Grow and Harvest Organic Chia Seeds
I have been growing chia organically for the past 10 years, and I have fine-tuned my growing and harvesting techniques. This article will share those techniques to help readers grow their own crop of this plant with high nutritional value.
- How Do You Grow Apple Trees From Seeds?
Germinating apple seeds is easy. Here’s everything you need to know to grow your own apple trees!
Janisa from Earth on May 13, 2020:
This is interesting. I was just wondering about sesame seeds today, so I think I'll plant some tomorrow to see how it goes. Great article!
LaDeeee on November 27, 2018:
For Hazel, if you ever return here. The sesame you are referring to is Korean sesame, otherwise called Perilla/Shiso. It has delicious slightly minty leaves that can be used marinated or fresh.You don’t eat the seeds from that plant. It is not even related to the above sesame, which is grown for the seed and who’s excited leaves you wouldn’t want to eat
Hazel on January 06, 2018:
I want to grow the plants to use the leaves - I've eaten them after they've been marinated with garlic and soya sauce and chilli. Use it like seaweed to wrap rice in. Is there a specific variety of sesame for edible leaves or are they all okay to eat?
Cara @ Fashionably Frugal on October 18, 2016:
I am going to have to try this, I love growing plants inside and I love growing plants that are useful even more! I never even thought of growing sesame plants from the seeds. Thank you for sharing your experience.
GardenExpert999 (author) from Scotland on June 17, 2012:
Thanks, that reminded me I meant to grow some more. Will need to plant some in pots t see what happens this time!
Brian Dooling from Connecticut on June 17, 2012:
Great article sounds very interesting, I live in the mid latitudes but may try this out! Voted up and interesting !