Growing Hot Pepper from Seeds
Growing hot pepper from seeds can be enjoyable and
sometimes frustrating as the germination can be slow and irregular even when
grown under the optimal conditions. Some varieties can take up to 6 weeks and
longer to germinate so you must be patient.
The home gardener must understand that varieties come from
humid tropical regions and others come from dry desert regions. After years of
testing, and by trial and error, we have come up with the best method for
growing hot peppers. You should follow the planting instructions below to prevent
poor germination, even if you have been growing hot peppers for years using other methods.
- Using potting soil
instead of lightweight seed starting mix
- Over-watering the seeds
before they sprout
- Too low temperature
- Inadequate ventilation
Type of Pots
The best method is to use plastic cell packs or plastic 4”
square pots. If you are reusing the plastic pots from last year, remember to
soak the pots in 50% bleach before using them. Do not use peat pots as
they tend to absorb and retain too much moisture for growing some types of hot
Seed Starting Mix
Use good quality lightweight seed starting material with
slow release fertilizer mixed in. We recommend using Miracle-Gro® Seed
Starting Potting Mix.
We do not recommend using Seed Sprout to germinate hot
pepper seeds. We have not tested this product for growing hot pepper seeds.
Fill the plastic containers with the seed starting mix.
Plant the seeds 1/4" deep, or as a general rule, twice as deep as the size of the seed. Remember if
you plant the seeds too deep, they may not sprout and rot. Write on a plastic garden
marker the variety name and date, then place it in the cell pack or plastic
Water the seeds with very hot water. This will speed up the
germination process. Then place the pots in an environment where the
temperature will remain around 85 degrees. Some hot pepper
varieties may not germinate and rot if the temperature is below 85 degrees. A
small utility room will do if you do not have an indoor garden stand
Do not use plastic tray covers when growing hot
pepper seeds. They tend to create an environment that is too humid for some hot
pepper varieties to germinate. Make sure you have adequate overhead ventilation,
as seeds need the proper amount of air (oxygen) to germinate.
The seeds do not need sunlight to germinate, but once they
sprout you need to place them under fluorescent lights for 10 to 16 hours
per day. You can reduce the temperature to 70 degrees after they sprout.
After the seedlings reach 2" tall, water the plants once a
week with half concentration of liquid plant fertilizer. This will enhance the
growth of the plant and give them a good start. After they reach 4” tall, you
can water the plants with full strength liquid plant fertilizer. Keep using the
overhead fan to prevent disease.
Transplant the plants outdoors in the garden when the plant
has reach at least 12" tall, and 2 weeks after the last frost date. Check your
Cooperative Extension Office if you are not sure of the last frost date. Always
transplant outdoors on an overcast day, preferably a day before rain is
We recommend using ROOTBLAST® and
Tomato Alive!® Plus organic fertilizer when transplanting outdoors. This will
enhance the root growth which is very important in having healthy and vigorous
plants. Your harvest will increase by some 300% if you use these organic
Use black landscaping material to protect the plants from
weeds and disease. When it rains, sometimes the soil splashes underneath the
leaves which can cause disease. Landscaping material greatly eliminates this
problem. It also warms up the soil and retains moisture. To prevent the
branches from breaking off with the heavy yields, use round tomato cages. We
recommend using soaker hoses or drip irrigation too. They will simplify the watering process.
Apply Osmocote® Outdoor & Indoor Slow Release Plant
Food around each plant and your are done! Periodically spray the hot pepper
plants with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food.
Hot Peppers in Containers
Peppers can be grown all year long in
containers. It is suitable for apartment dwellers and gardeners who live in
cool regions where the number of growing days are limited. Many pepper
enthusiast grow peppers in pots so they can have fresh peppers all year long.
It’s best to use 5 gallon containers so the roots do not get too over-crowded. Please click Container Gardening for tips on growing hot peppers in containers.