Hot Pepper Seedling Care – Growing Hot Peppers From Seed

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

If you’re interested in growing hot peppers from seed, youcan choose from a huge variety of hotpepper plants, ranging from mildly warm and spicy poblanos to tolerably hotjalapenos.If you’re a seasoned pepper aficionado, plant a few habaneroor dragon’s breath peppers. If you live in a warm climate, you can plant hotpepper seeds directly in the garden. Most people, however, need to start hotpepper seeds indoors. Let’s learn how to grow hot pepper seeds.

When to Start Hot Pepper Seeds

It’s good to get started about six to 10 weeks before the lastaverage frost date in your area. In most climates, January is a great timefor germinating hot pepper seeds, but you may want to start as early asNovember or as late as February.

Keep in mind that super hot peppers, like habanero or Scotchbonnet, take longer to germinate than milder peppers, and they also requiremore warmth.

Growing Hot Peppers from Seeds

Soak the hot pepper seeds in warm water overnight. Fill atray of celled containers with seed-starting mix. Water well, then set thetrays aside to drain until the mix is moist but not soggy.

Sprinkle seeds over the surface of the moist seedstarting mix. Cover the tray with clear plastic or slide it into a whiteplastic garbage bag.

Germinating hot pepper seeds requires warmth. The top of arefrigerator or other warm appliance works well, but you may want to invest ina heat mat. Temperatures of 70 to 85 F. (21-19 C.) are ideal.

Check the trays frequently. The plastic will keep theenvironment warm and moist, but be sure to water or mist lightly if the seedstarting mix feels dry.

Watch for the seeds to germinate, which may occur as soon asa week, or may take as long as six weeks, depending on temperatures andvariety. Remove the plastic as soon as the seeds germinate. Place the traysunder fluorescent bulbs or grow lights. The seedlings need at least six hoursof sunlight per day.

Tips on Hot Pepper Seedling Care

Use scissors to cut the weakest seedlings in each cell,leaving the strongest, sturdiest seedling.

Place a fan near the seedlings, as a steady breeze willpromote stronger stems. You can also open a window if the air isn’t too cold.

Transplant the seedlings to 3- to 4-inch pots (7.6-10 cm.)filled with regular potting mix when they’re large enough to handle.

Continue growing the hot pepper plants indoors until they’relarge enough to transplant, hardeningthem off beforehand. Be sure the days and nights are warm with absolutelyno risk of frost.

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The Cheats guide to Germinating Chillies and Pepper Seeds.

Do you think that you haven't got the necessary propagation setup to germinate chilli and pepper seeds successfully? May be you've tried in previous years and failed. Well think again, our seed packets and a nice warm spot are all you need.

  • One packet of our chilli seeds - you can reseal them, and they are foil lined did you know!
  • One piece of kitchen roll.
  • A splash of water.
  • A bit of heat.

Then check out our guide below:

Take the seed packet and empty out the seeds, than the piece of kitchen roll and fold it to the size that will fit in to seed packet when folded in half. The seeds will be placed on kitchen roll between the two folded sides. Wet the kitchen roll with water and place the seeds on the tissue.

Fold the Kitchen roll in half and place in the empty seed packet, reseal the packet and place somewhere warm, in our case we have a kerosene boiler that heats the house and the top is always a nice warm place, we're pretty sure you'll have somewhere similar in your house if you look. Then leave!

5th January - 3 days after sowing

Ok! So we couldn't leave them and had to take a peek to see what was happening, you see the seeds have absorbed water and start to fill out. Back they went into the packet and back on the boiler top!

12th January - 10 days after sowing!

Success! The seeds have started to germinate, with Chilli Apache that we have here, you'll find they will be spaced over about a 5 days, they won't all come together. We decide to pop them back in the pack overnight.

13th January - 11 days after sowing!

Finally time to sow! we've used a good quality compost and a cell tray with cells around 2cm x 2cm here.

Cover them over with either compost or vermiculite, and water in.

Now place back in a warm space - you will start to see the shoots come through over the next 7 days, make sure the compost doesn't dry out, but do not over water. As the seedlings start coming through move the tray to somewhere in the light to stop them stretching.


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The Soaking Process

For each soaking method we’ll use 10 seeds of each variety. They’ll be soaked for 8 hours in room temperature liquid then setup to germinate using the paper towel method.

Chamomile Presoak

Chamomile has natural bacteria killing properties so it’s a pretty good choice for a seed soaking solution. Not only will it help kill off potentially harmful bacteria, it’ll help to soften the seed casing making it easier for the roots to emerge.

To make the chamomile presoak make a cup of chamomile tea letting the teabag to brew for 2 minutes. Then, make a second cup of tea with the same teabag and let it brew for 2 minutes. Leave it to cool to room temperature then dump your seeds in there to soak for 8 hours.

Black Tea Presoak

Black tea is a bit of a mystery. While it does help to soften the seed casings to make it easier for the roots to emerge, it’s not exactly clear what else black tea brings to the table. I’ve seen mention of the tannins working some kind of magic, there’s also talk of the flavonoids doing something but nothing definitive.

Never-the-less there’s an interesting posts about black tea being particularly useful when it comes to hard to germinate seeds or very old seeds along with some reports of it drastically reducing germination time.

To make the black tea presoak make a cup of black tea letting the teabag to brew for 2 minutes. Then, make a second cup of tea with the same teabag and let it brew for 2 minutes. Leave it to cool to room temperature then tip your seeds in there to soak for 8 hours.

Distilled Water Presoak

Distilled water is used as a presoaking solution to rehydrate seeds which is thought to “wake up” the seeds from dormancy. It also helps to soften the seed coating making it easier for the roots to emerge from the seed casing.

Put your seeds in room temperature bottled water and leave them for 8 hours.

Tap Water Presoak

Tap water is the easiest and cheapest soaking solution. Soaking in water is thought to rehydrate the seed “waking” it up from dormancy as well as softening the seed coat making it easier for the roots to emerge.

The problem with tap water is it contains chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride which are thought to inhibit plant development and growth. However, many people use tap water without any problems.

Put your seeds in a glass of room temperature tap water and let them soak for 8 hours.

No Presoak

Plenty of people skip the presoaking step and go straight to the paper towel germination part so it’ll be interesting to see if these seeds keep up with the rest.

This is our control group. It’ll help show whether presoaking offers any advantage or if it’s just an additional unnecessary extra step.

Chamomile wrap

With the chamomile wrap there’s no presoaking involved. We’re going to setup our seeds for paper towel germination but instead of moistening the paper towel with water we’re going to use some of our chamomile tea presoak solution.

I’m curious to see if it’s possible to get the benefits of presoaking without needing to spend 8 hours soaking the seed.

Black tea wrap

The black tea wrap process is the same as the chamomile wrap process except we’re moistening the paper towel with the black tea presoak solution.

Ask a Question forum→super hot pepper seed germination

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In Santa Barbara, you could leave them outside year round.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming. "WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada

I decided to examine the seed, took a look in the coco coir and it is still growing there, but the root isn't growing straight down but around the seed in a U shape.

I read that after seed germination having heat from the bottom is not necessary for development - is that true? or should one wait until one has a real seedling growing out of the soil to take it out of a hot place?

Just in case, I have removed the jar with the diluted nutrient solution, and I've taken the the cup containing the coco coir and put it on top of my oil heater. It is no longer under the light, which is in the other room, because I'm not sure light is needed at this stage? I am just misting the top every now and then and covering it with saran wrap. Let me know if this sounds ok! Hopefully I will get a sprout coming up soon - I will update here if I do.

I am growing some plants outside which I started this last summer, but in the cooler months they will no longer flower and fruit. I also had some strange issues with the plant - first of all, none of my peppers were that hot, even the apocalypse scorpion, which seemed no worse than a jalapeno to me! The plants were also heavily attacked by a variety of pests, mostly aphids and ants, and I had a lot of difficulty getting rid of them.

Because of this I've decided to try to start growing some pepper plants indoors in the closet. I bought a 4k HLG light for thus purpose. My plan is to start the plants using a wicking system which I saw someone demonstrating on youtube. Like I have done with this first seed, I will put each seed in a cup with coco coir and a wick, then feed the plant nutrients from a cup below, until it starts growing bigger. I am using masterblend nutrients in the mix with calcium nitrate and epsom salts.

I have never tried this before though, so I hope it works. It sounds like I should just put plain water in the bottom cup to be wicked up by the plant until it grows taller and gets some true leaves?

The other thing I'm not clear on is it seems some people use a diluted nutrient solution, instead of full strength, when the plant is young, about 1/4 normal strength - but how do I know when to switch to full strength nutrients?

Seeds are little picnic baskets full of nutrients. The actual embryo is very small. After seeds germinate, the little picnic basket feeds the embryo to just past secondary leaf stage. At that point, the seedling has enough root to support itself but does need nutrients to do that. You will know when to add nutrients by the change in leaf color and vigor. Using just coir as your medium, that will be sooner.

Roots always grow first. When there is enough root, leaves start to grow. They need sun.

Mixing nutrients at a lesser than recommended amount is always a good idea. Plants don't need as much fertilizer as the fertilizer manufacturers would lead us to believe. Plants in pots need even less as there isn't enough room in the pot to let the roots get away from the fertilizer. I would use a mix of 1/4/ to 1/2 strength (depending upon how often you fertilize). If you want to add fertilizer at every watering, 1/4 or less strength. Flush the soil before adding more because the old stuff is still there.

The Masterblend fertilizer seems a bit unbalanced. I would never use anything with Epsom salts in it. Calcium is needed by plants but in very small amounts - there is usually enough in the potting soil and your tap water. Calcium interferes with magnesium and potassium intake so that may be why the other nutrients are so out of wack. The excess potassium in the fertilizer and the epsom salts are counteracting the calcium excess. I use fertilizer with more even numbers with added micronutrients, once or twice a growing season.

I fear you have been led astray by wacky Youtube videos and unsubstantiated internet gobbly-goop, but good luck!

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming. "WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada

You may be right, but I have been able to find info on this type of wicking system being used as a hydroponic growing method in various places on the net, so I don't think it is just the one wacky youtube person. Haha. At any rate, I am just starting with this one plant as an experiment, and if I notice it isn't doing well, I will switch to a different growing method or perhaps just transplant the pepper into a small container with potting soil to keep inside under my light until the weather warms up here.

What you say about the masterblend solution and the various components is interesting, but I should add this appears to only be used for hydroponic growing, I do not think it used as a fertilizer for soil-based plants. So maybe this accounts for the difference? From what I can find masterblend is pretty widely used by hydroponic growers, so it seems to have the test of time behind it. Do you do any hydroponic growing, and if so, is there any nutrient mix you would recommend to me as more balanced? I know there are some premixed solutions like "florablend" but they appear to be a lot more expensive, and from I've read masterblend works just as well, which is why I went with the masterblend. But I will look into any suggestion you have for a more balanced mix, particularly if I see my plants aren't thriving with this method!

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming. "WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Tips on How To Successfully Germinate Hot Pepper Seeds

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.

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.

Watch the video: How to grow hot peppers from seed - 7 Pot Club

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