Answering the question, “Can you plant lentils from the grocery store” isn’t a simple yes-or-no. In short, you might have success growing lentils from the store but there are many factors to take into consideration. So, while you might be able to plant them, it’s not really advisable to do so.
However, if you can take all the variables into account and you know you have fresh dried lentils on your hands, it may very well be a successful endeavor. But, there are better methods and other to source quality beans that will surely grow.
Is It Possible to Plant Store-Bought Lentils?
It is possible to plant store-bought lentils. But getting them to grow is another story. It’s uncertain if this will work or not. Some people don’t have problems doing it while others can’t get one to grow to save their lives. Yet there are those who won’t even attempt to touch it in the first place.
The main issue of which is getting the lentils to germinate. And, in most cases, even if they do germinate, they won’t turn out the way you expect. They often look sickly.
What Prevents Grocery Store Lentils from Germinating?
Grocery store lentils won’t germinate due to several reasons. They could be any one of the following:
- Too old: lentils cannot sprout when they’re old
- Hybridization: if the lentils are a combination of several strains, they either won’t grow or they won’t turn out right
- Chemical Treatments: Certain production processes that lentils go through kill any potential germination
What Do You Look for at the Store to Ensure You Get Lentils that Will Grow?
While there’s no surefire or foolproof way to hunt down a bag of lentils for your garden at the store, there are things you can look out for. First, find for ones that come with a label or production date to indicate being fresh yet dry. Then, ensure they’re organic and GMO-free.
Also check that they are free of things like pesticides, insecticides and other chemical treatments. Regardless, though, even with all these, there’s a likelihood the producers employed hybridization techniques. So, when they grow, they won’t turn out as they normally would.
How Do You Test Grocery Store Lentils to See If They Will Grow?
If you really want to try growing store bought lentils, you can test the bag you have before deciding the plant the whole thing. Take a piece of paper toweling and moisten it. Spread a few of the lentils across one side and then fold it in half. Place it in a dark, warm place inside a plastic bag and ensure the temperature stays around 68°F at all times.
Then check the seeds for sprouts. If you see them, plant the lentils into small containers to see how they develop. If you see some development but not full germination, leave them in their spot for another week. If there is nothing growing after this time, they’re too old.
Where’s the Best Place to Buy Lentils that Will Grow When Planted?
The best way to ensure lentils will grow is to source the beans from a gardening center or nursery. These often come with a guarantee and they will be fresh enough for planting. But, store bought lentils are ideal as an inexpensive source of seeds.
However, because of the uncertainty, most gardeners and farmers opt for bona fide seeds from a reputable source. This ensures the lentils will grow with little chance of deformation or improper development.
How Long Does It Take Lentils to Germinate & Grow?
Normal, healthy lentils will germinate in a week to 10 days. If they’re older, it may take as much as two weeks. Once they take root and begin developing, it can take about a month to see a full plant begin to mature. If you don’t see anything growing after three weeks, the bean is a dud.
Will Other Store Bought Beans Grow When Planted?
Even though lentils are an iffy bet when it comes to planting, there are other beans you can plant that you buy from the store. While the risks are still about the same as growing lentils, you can test them all the same to see if they’ll grow. You can attempt the following with any variety, from kidney beans to pintos:
- Ensure they’re the dry type and not canned with water
- Because most beans don’t like transplantation, put them into a large container or directly into the soil under direct sunlight
- See if anything appears after three to four weeks
- If so, observe the plants to see if they develop in a normal and healthy manner
- In the event they look bad or have poor growth in any way, ditch them
Are Lentils Difficult to Grow?
Growing lentils are one of the more ideal beans for beginners. Once they grow, they provide a plentiful harvest. You’ll be able to dry your crop and save a few others to plant for the following season. Be sure you plant them in early spring so they’re good to go in early fall.
That said, the number one mistake many newcomers make is overwatering the plants once the pods begin to dry out. It’s important to stop watering the moment the lentils hit this point in maturity. This is what produces the edible part of the plant.
Using Rhizobacteria Inoculation Powder
Some gardeners suggest using a rhizobacteria inoculation powder to help with germination. Simply wet the seeds down and roll them into the powder when you want to seed them. Put them about one inch deep into the soil and five inches apart or into starter pots.
But, this is an optional step. However, it will make them an excellent nitrogen fixer in the soil. There are many other gardeners who attest to growing lentils just fine without the inoculation powder. Ensuring it has enough sunlight and knowing when to water are the keys to success.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.