Peppers come in both sweet and spicy forms with many variations of each. Ripe pepper fruits are bursting with viable seeds that can be stored for the next season's planting. Pepper plants require a warm growing season in order to produce fruit. Depending on the variety, peppers are ready for harvest 65 to 85 days after planting. Start pepper seeds indoors in mid to late winter to get a head start on the growing season.
Things You'll Need
- Paper towel
- Plastic zip bag
- Seed starting tray
- Seed starting mix
- 2-inch pots
- Potting soil
Harvest a ripe pepper that has wrinkled slightly on the vine. Cut the pepper open from the stem to the tip using a clean, sharp knife. Scoop out the seeds and place them on a paper towel to dry.
Place the seeds in a plastic zip bag when they have dried completely, usually about two weeks from harvest. Store the seeds in a cool, dark place until planting time.
Start the seeds indoors in the late winter. Fill a seed starting tray with a soilless seed starting mix. Add water until the planting medium is evenly damp.
Place the seeds in the tray and cover with 1/4 inch of the planting medium. Space the seeds 2 inches apart. Keep the seed tray in an area with filtered sun where the temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water with a misting spray bottle and cool, room temperature water when the top of the soil begins to feel dry to the touch. Warm the water to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit if it is cold out of the tap in winter.
Transplant the seedlings into individual pots when they are about 2 inches tall. Fill one 2-inch pot for each seedling with potting soil. Prick the pepper seedlings out of the tray by pushing a small trowel under a section of the soil. Lift the seedlings out of the tray and separate them gently with your fingers.
Place one pepper seedling in each pot at the same depth it was in the seedling tray. Water the pots until they are damp all the way through. Place the seedlings in a warm bright room with indirect light and temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Transplant the seedlings outside when the nighttime temperature is consistently above 65 degrees Fahrenheit and all chance of frost has passed. Dig planting holes 2 inches wide and 14 to 18 inches apart. Slide the seedlings out of the individual pots and place one in each planting hole. The base of the stem should be level with the surrounding soil.
Press the soil around the pepper seedlings and flatten the surrounding soil with your hand. Water until the area is damp to a depth of 2 inches. Fertilize using a tomato food fertilizer after transplanting and again after the first peppers begin to appear.
Tips & Warnings
- Wear gloves when handling hot peppers and pepper seeds.
- Photo Credit lantern habanero chilli pepper plants in nature image by Elena Moiseeva from Fotolia.com
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The easiest way to grow peppers is to wait until the soil is sufficiently warm and to use nursery-started plants.
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