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How to Grow Sesame Seed Plants from Shop Bought Sesame Seeds

I often use sesame seeds in cooking, straight from a shop bought container.

Then I thought to myself, "These are seeds, I wonder if they will grow?".

Well, I took a handful of sesame seeds and placed them on the top of a compost filled container, and watered in well.

I then left the pot on a sunny window-shelf, and watered 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 looking forward to seeing what kind of plant they would turn into - a sesame plant, obviously! - but as I had never seen one, I didn't know what to expect.

Those little plants grew rapidly, and then disaster struck. They wilted. The 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, but 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 (but it's good to know that the sesame seed in our kitchen cupboards have not been treated and can still grow).

sesame plants growing in Korea

sesame plants growing in Korea

sesame seed

According to wikipedia, sesame plants reach 3' in height.

So, if you plan to grow one or two at home, don't bother planting loads of seed, just plant one or two.

They are annuals, which means that in one year they will sprout, grow, flower and produce seed, then die.

Ah, I wish I had read that wikipedia article before I tried growing them from seed (I don't think it existed then).

Sesame are known as a survivor crop.

They survive without water.

I probably overwatered mine.

They grow best in equatorial and subtropical climates. I live in the subtropical which has the heat without the water.

Equatorial climates are damp. You've heard of equatorial rain-forests, haven't you? Many subtropical regions are arid.

However, even if you live in polar regions, you can grow sesame indoors provided you can provide the light and warmth it needs.

Sesame like sun, heat and plenty of it.

So they will no doubt grow quite well, at least to start off with, on a sunny window-shelf in a centrally heated home.

close-up of a sesame plant flower

close-up of a sesame plant flower

Sesame flowers

Your germinated sesame seedling, if you have taken good care of it and not allowed it to die, should flower about 6 weeks later.

So if you had it in a seed tray or small pot, I hope you remembered to pot it on as it grew.

The flowers are white to pale rose, depending on variety, which will be fun for you because you'll have no clue which variety you have grown, seeing as you just bought 'sesame seeds' for the kitchen.

The flowers develop in the leaf axils.

The leaves themselves vary depending on their variety. They can have different shapes, sizes and some will be evenly spaced and other alternately on the branches, again depending on type.

If you are lucky, yours will have leaves positioned evenly, opposite from each other.

This type produces more flowers, and obviously more flowers mean more seed capsules, which means more seed at the end of the day.

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 which means if you have two or more plants, you could have some interesting seed for planting next year.

sesame seed pod

sesame seed pod

Collecting sesame seeds

The seed pods, which start developing after pollination, take 6 - 8 weeks to mature. Like on any plant, you 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. Just spread them out on kitchen paper and place in a warm environment for a week or two to make sure they are completely dry.

Then you can bottle them up for future use in the kitchen, or save them in a sealed container in the bottom of the refrigerator for planting out in the spring.

Sesame seed plant cultivation


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 !

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