How to Grow Sesamum Plants

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Sesame

Sesamum plants are a genus of half hardy annual herbs. They can reach from 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) in height.

They bloom in the summer, carrying tubular flowers of violet, pink or white.

Some of the common names for members of the Sesamum genus include Sesame and Benne.

Sesame pods and leaves

To harvest Sesame seeds, the stalks should be cut off when the top seed pods have turned green, but before the bottom pods have opened (try to cut the stalks when it will result in a better harvest).

The sesame plant should then be put into a paper bag and allowed to air dry. Rub the bag to release the sesame seeds, and store them in a Tupperware container.

Sesamum indicum

Sesamum Plant
Sesamum indicum – Sesame and Sesame flower by .Annna. Both photographs under creative commons licence

Sesamum Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Sesame.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual.
Height: 20 to 40 inches (50 to 100 cm).
Native: Africa, Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 7 to 10.

Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: Pink, yellow, blue, white, violet. Speckled. Tubular. Four lobed mouth.
Foliage: Opposite. Lanceolate.

Sow Outside: 1/4 inch (6 mm). From the middle of spring; temperature should not drop below 60°F (16°C). Spacing 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm).
Sow Inside: Germination time: up to one week. Temperature 70 to 80°F (21 to 27°C). Two months in advance. From the middle of spring; temperature should not drop below 60°F (16°C).
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage.

Family: Pedaliaceae.
Miscellaneous: Oil rich seeds. Nutty flavour. High in magnesium, calcium, and the vitamins B and E.

How to Grow Sesame / Sesamum Plants in the Garden

The seeds of Sesame, Benne, and other Sesamum plants should be sowed outdoors at a depth of 6 mm (1/4 inch), and spaced at about 25 cm (10 inches) apart.

Do this towards the end of spring, when temperatures remain above 15°C (59°F) at night. It should take about a week for the seeds to germinate, once temperatures reach 20 to 30 degrees Celsius (68 to 86°F).

Ideally sesame plants should be grown in a sunny area of the garden that is well drained. The soil type is not important.

If you plan to start indoors, then sow about two months before due to be transplanted outdoors (at the end of spring).

Common Questions

How many members does the Sesamum genus have?

The Sesamum genus consists of around 20 species, including Sesamum indicum, the cultivated sesame plant.

Do members of Sesamum make a good garden or landscaping plant?

While not typically used in ornamental gardening, Sesamum can be a unique addition to an edible or herb garden due to its seeds' culinary use.

Which Sesamum species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Sesamum indicum, the cultivated sesame plant, is commonly grown for its seeds, used in various cuisines.

Are members of the Sesamum plant genus fragrant?

Sesamum plants are not typically fragrant, but their seeds have a pleasant, nutty aroma when toasted.

What is the perfect location to grow Sesamum?

Sesamum requires full sun, warm conditions, and well-drained soil to thrive. It is drought-tolerant once established.

Is Sesamum invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Sesamum is not considered invasive in the USA. Always consult local regulations for updated information.

How do I remove Sesamum plants from my garden?

For removing Sesamum, pull out the entire plant, ensuring all roots are removed to prevent regrowth.


The Sesamum genus includes annual plants native to Africa and India. They are cultivated for their edible seeds and oil, which are used in various cuisines worldwide.

Plant Sesamum seeds in spring, after the last frost, in a sunny location with well-drained soil. They prefer warm temperatures and require regular watering. Harvesting usually occurs approximately 100 to 130 days after planting when the lower leaves begin to yellow and the seeds inside the pods turn brown.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Sesamum plants. You may also enjoy the following culinary related Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Fennel and Myrrhis plants.