Growing peppers in a home vegetable garden is as rewarding as it is fun. To successfully germinate your pepper seeds, start by making the process simple and follow a few simple guidelines to ensure a good germination rate from your heirloom pepper seeds.
First, if you live in a warm area, like in the south, you can start your seeds directly into your garden. This is called the "direct-sow" method. Don't live in a warm or hot climate but maybe you have a greenhouse? This will work beautifully for starting your seeds outdoors using natural light and the warmth from the sun.
If you don't have either of the two options above for starting your pepper seeds you'll want to follow these tips on starting your seeds indoors.
1. Use our Seed Starting Soil Pods.
2. Place your seed tray in a sunny and warm windowsill or under grow lights or full spectrum utility lights. Your seedlings will need AT LEAST 6 hours of sunlight or leave artificial light on them for up to 18 hours a day. Remember that pepper plants originated in tropical, warm climates.
3. Soak your seeds overnight in warm water to help them germinate faster.
4. Plant your seeds no more than 1/4 of an inch deep. Timing is everything and they should be started approximately 6-10 weeks before your last average frost date.
5. Turn up the heat. Your house may not be hot enough for the seeds to germinate. Ideal temperature is 75-85 degrees. If this is the case, try using heat mats or start them on top of the refrigerator, or in the warmest spot in your home. Once they sprout you can move them to the sunny location or under lights to finish growing.
Peppers are easily second only to tomatoes as a home gardeners favorite. Try spot planting them around the garden for bursts of beautiful color too.
When to Plant
Pepper roots don't like to be disturbed, so plant them indoors in Seed Starting Soil Pods about two months before your last frost date, usually three or four seeds to a pod.
How to Plant
Peppers love full sun, but don't plant peppers where tomatoes or eggplants grew previously, because all three are members of the nightshade family and are subject to similar diseases.
Keep your soil moist and about 75°F. They need at least 5 hours of sunlight a day. Once the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin them by leaving only the strongest plant.When your pepper plant seedlings are 4 to 6 inches tall, harden them off for about a week. To avoid shocking the plants, make sure the soil temperature is at least 60°F before moving them outside; this usually occurs 2 to 3 weeks after the last frost.
How to Harvest
Harvest peppers during mild and dry weather by cutting them from the stem. Make sure you wear gloves if you are sensitive to the heat. Most hot peppers will be mature and ready to eat in 70 to 85 days, but some can take as long as 150 days, depending on when you transplanted them. They're mature when they are firm, good sized, and have thick walls. Handle carefully, because nicks and bruises can cause them to rot faster.