Pepper Plants from Seed.. Slow Process.. Can Be Difficult To Do

sweet-pepperUsually planted about the same time as tomatoes, pepper is usually started in pots indoors in early spring, then transplanted outdoors when all danger of frost is past. Pepper needs 80 or more frost free days to produce fully mature peppers. CAUTION: When filling your starter Pepper pots DO NOT use potting soil that contains peat moss. Pepper seeds for some reason don’t like peat moss and many time will totally fail to germinate.

As a rule pepper takes a bit more patience, since it is usually smaller and slower growing. The payoff, however, is an abundant crop of deep green or bright red or yellow prize specimens that are the pride of any home gardener.

As an added advantage, the more you harvest, the more peppers the plant will produce. Many pepper varieties can be picked at any time while still maintaining their flavor and crunch. To get the full and rich amount of vitamins A & C, however, leave peppers to ripen to full maturity. Peppers can be eaten raw, pickled, cooked and stuffed, or used in relishes, sauces and stews.

Just remember to keep plants supplied with well drained soil, plenty of sun and uniformly moist but not water-logged soil to keep your peppers healthy and growing.

Feed once when setting out, then again with a low nitrogen fertilizer as fruit begins to set. Regularly inspect for sticky “dew” on the underside of leaves caused by aphids. They be easily eliminated by spraying the underside of leaves with a mild soapy solution.

Plant pepper seeds, spacing them 1/2 to 3/4 inch apart in each direction and no more than 1/4 inch deep. Keep containers 80-85°F during the day and 60-70°F at night. Make a hole in the clear plastic top for the thermometer to go through. For a few hours each day, take the cover off the container in the afternoon to let air in. This will help control “damping off” fungus, which is a disease which attacks the seedlings.

Water without disturbing the seedlings, with the holes punched in the bottom of the container, you can water by letting the container sit in a bowl of water and soak up the water through the bottom holes. Make sure that the soil level is above the level of the water when the container is soaking up water. Otherwise, watering should be done overhead with a gentle sprinkling can, and water thoroughly every time, but let the surface dry out a little bit between watering.

AIR CIRCULATION Pepper seedlings need air circulation, at least until they develop their second set of leaves, and a small fan can help circulate the air, to control any damping off.

KEEPING the SEEDS WARM There are at least three inexpensive methods to provide the 80-85°F soil temperatures that pepper seeds need to germinate.

HEATING PAD method from the pharmacy. Purchase one that can get wet and put it under the flats or pots that your pepper seeds have been sown in. I caution you when using commercial seedling heating mats, make sure and check the soil temperature, that they are warming the soil enough. Also, I do not recommend soil heating cables, because you have to put them into sand beds, and can’t just put them directly underneath pots.

LIGHT BULB in the cardboard box method. You need a cardboard box approximately 2 x3 x3 feet, a ceramic light socket, lamp cord long enough to go from a wall socket and where you will have your germination box set up, an electrical plug, a 40 watt utility light. Place box on its side and bolt ceramic socket to the inside of the box about half-way up on either the left or right side. Keep light on during the day, but turn off at night to allow seedlings to return to room temperature. A 40 watt light will keep the inside of the box at 80-85°F.

HIGH SHELF in a heated room. The 80-85°F daytime soil temps for peppers only have to be maintained until the leaves break the soil surface, and then seedlings can be moved to a cooler place with abundant light. If you check high shelves near the ceiling, you might find one where the heat in the room keeps the temp. at the right level during the day. You just need to make sure and keep the seed pots adequately moist, and never allowed to dry out, which may require watering once or twice a day.
GERMINATION Regular sweet peppers are very quick to germinate, usually 7-10 days.
HOT PEPPERS always take a lot longer, a minimum of 15 days, but up to 125 days! So don’t give up and be sure to allow for their long germination times when starting them indoors.
Peppers like Pequin and Tepin can take 100 or more days to germinate. Daytime soil temperature of 80-85°F is critical and will in many cases cut the total germination time down to as little as 30-45 days.

Here’s a great little container grown ornamental pepper. Chilly Chili This ornamental pepper seems to explode in a riot of color, bringing bright orange and red to landscapes or containers. Chilly Chili is child safe because the peppers are not pungent. Two to 2-1/2 inch long fruit are borne above the foliage and start out greenish-yellow, then turn to orange, and finally to dark red. Plants grow about 1 foot tall and spread up to 14 inches wide. Extremely heat tolerant, Chilly Chili provides garden color even during the hottest summers.

Why is common sense so uncommon?
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11 responses to “Pepper Plants from Seed.. Slow Process.. Can Be Difficult To Do

  1. William J Sweeney Jr.

    Peppers are NOT hard to grow and if the soil is kept warm you can see hot pepper seeds germinate as fast as mild ones… Pete pods suck for growing peppers. I have had 100% success rate using Miracle grow organic choice seedling starter and a heating pad for plants. Once those lil girls sprout their 2nd leaf’s transplant into a 16oz plastic cup, water bottle, 4×4 transplant cup, whatever… Now let them grow as large as they can. If they get too big transplant again.. HOT PEPPERS grow year round and will keep producing fruit as fast as you can pick it. I like having flowers on my Scorpion peppers when they hit the garden.. Last year I kept a Ghost pepper plant in the bucket and she is now about 5 feet tall and lives about 3′ away from my computer.. lol, Sorry, I just fell in love with gardening. Now you would think…..??? What am I going to do with all of these peppers… WELL, At my farmers garden I always sell out, ALWAYS. I only have a small coroner lot in the city…. People see 2 of these sundried mouth burners and they pop up $10 instantly. Sauce that they have to sign a waiver for??? $40 and it always goes… The batches are hand made and small. The packaging also cost me about $8 plus time. I wax them… Yeah, I never break even… lol.. The guy who always sells out is broke… My hours are also 24/7 365. I’ll be transplanting again this afternoon… ….and it’s JANUARY!!! Still, I make a few bucks and my garden is better the following year.. Maybe I should start selling on line??? Hmmm, Sweeney Said Seeds.. HOT pepper growing is not hard nor is any pepper growing. They need little water and or attention once summer comes. Mother nature is an awesome babysitter.. Pluck moldy fruit, Bone meal and fish fertilizer once a month. Light watering if it does not rain or if you grow in a “grass Garden” or “Hole Popping”. These are 2 types of gardening that are really taking off. Right out in the lawn you just dig a 12″‘ hole at least 12″ deep. Get a piece of garden edging that can fold and lock into itself or plastic pipe with 8″ diameter about 4″ deep. Dig that hole and loosen the dirt. Maybe a few tiny pebbles on the bottom with a handful of straw. Dig out the sides also. Toss a fresh caught fish down in that hole also if you are so inclined. What does your dirt look like? Maybe you want to mix in some peat or compost. Just remember keep the soil loosely firm, lol You want those roots to travel.. Okay so now you put down the lawn edging or the pipe and fill the hole so that the edge sits above the lawn line. Mow the plant is safe from the weed wacker IF YOU ARE CAREFUL… Still, this is one hell of a fast way to increase the size of your garden FAST. No major digs, cultivation or tilling necessary. 3 pushes on a full sized spade shovel and poof you have your garden. Okay, okay a lil more work but you get the idea. If you want to grow a garden and have any questions e-mail me at I can not make many promises in this world so I make the one that I am certain I can keep every time. I promise that if I teach you to garden even the most lowly of plants you will never take nature for granted again.


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  11. Thanks for all the info on pepper growing. It is a struggle here on the north west coast to maintain those temperatures. We can manage days of 80 – 85 degrees like today and the last two weeks but overnight temperatures hover around 50 -58 degrees. I have tried small cloches but it didn’t seem to help and the peppers developed mildew so I am currently knitting little blankets for them … smile …S.


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