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Start Pepper Seeds Indoors


When To Start Pepper Seeds Indoors

It’s best to start pepper seeds indoors at least 8-10 weeks before the last frost date in your zone, not including germination time. Many pepper enthusiasts sow their seeds as early as January. This is especially helpful with tropical varieties that need a long growing season for pods to mature and provide a good harvest. Keep seeds in a dark dry area until you’re ready to plant. Some pepper varieties, such as super hots, can take up to 30 days to germinate but the average time is about 7-14 days.


How To Start Pepper Seeds Indoors

For optimal germination of your pepper seeds please follow the steps outline here:

  • 24 hours before planting place seeds them on a damp paper towel. Fold the paper towel over to cover the seeds. Ensure the paper towel is in full contact of the seeds top and bottom. Then place the folded paper towel in a Ziplock bag or some type of airtight container.
  • After 24 hours when you’re ready to sow the seeds, you’ll need to moisten some well-draining, high quality, seed starting mix. The seed starting mix should be damp but not wet. You should barely be able to squeeze a drop of water from a handful of soil.
  • Most people use a seed starting tray with 6-cell packs and a humidity dome (cover) for germination but any container with drain holes will work as long as it can be covered to retain moisture.
  • Fill your cell packs or containers of choice with the damp seed starting mix.
  • Place one or two pre-soaked seeds per cell on top of the soil. Using your finger or the eraser end of a pencil and press them into the soil to a depth of ¼” and push some soil into the hole. Placing 2 seeds per cell ensures there are no empty cells in case one seed doesn’t germinate. You can cull the weaker seedling later if both germinate.
  • Once you’ve sown all your seeds, cover your seedlings with the humidity dome to retain moisture.
  • Pepper seeds need to be kept at a temperature of at least 65F to germinate. Optimally you should keep them at around 80-85F. If seeds take too long to germinate, they could mold or rot in the soil. Use of a heat mat and temperature controller will speed up germination.
  • Pepper seeds do not require light to germinate but the sprouted seedlings should be provided light soon as they break the soil surface. Sunlight coming in a window will not suffice. Seedlings will stretch and get leggy even with light from a south facing window. Grow lights will ensure proper growth of your seedlings until they find their permanent home in your garden.


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Growing Peppers Plants To Full Size

The end goal for your pepper seedlings is most likely in your garden. Outdoors, the soil temperatures should be maintaining at 50-60F before you should move them outdoors. However, before exposing the delicate seedlings to full sun then need to be acclimated through a process known as “hardening off”. Start by placing the seedlings in an area that gets full shade and slowly expose them to more and more sun over a period of about two weeks. Once fully hardened off you can plant them in their final destination. We’ve tried a whole variety of methods to grow our peppers, in ground and raised beds. Our preferred method now is growing peppers in 5-gallon buckets.

If you live in a cold climate with a short growing season, you could also consider growing pepper plants indoors. If you already have a strong grow light just pick up a grow tent and harvest peppers all year long.

We hope you find this information useful! Feel free to post any of your own tips, tricks, or questions in the comment section below.

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