Whether you love growing sweet peppers, mild peppers or scorching hot peppers – one of the best ways to ensure a big harvest of your favorite peppers is to start your own plants from seed indoors. And it couldn’t be easier to do!
Not only is growing your own peppers from seed simple, it also opens your growing world up to hundreds of pepper varieties you simply can’t find when purchasing plants in stores.
Local nurseries and big box stores normally carry the most basic of vegetable plant varieties. But when you grow your own plants from seed, you can find unique and tasty peppers to fill your garden with incredible flavor and color.
One of our favorite peppers to grow is the Marconi Red Roasting pepper. The thick, meaty and slightly sweet pepper is great for fresh eating, grilling or using in a stir fry. This pepper variety is rarely found in stores as a transplant, but by growing from seed, we can enjoy it year after year. Seed Link : Marconi Red Roaster Pepper Seeds
Why Growing Your Own Pepper Plants From Seed Makes Sense
We have been growing our own peppers from seed for well over a decade. In addition to allowing us to plant hard to find varieties, starting our peppers from seed lets us to grow strong, healthy transplants that don’t have to endure the stress of store-bought plants.
The vegetable transplants you buy in stores often don’t receive the care they require. Many are left outdoors on cold nights which can easily stunt their growth. Others are over or under-watered. And the same can go for any fertilizing they may receive as well.
But when you grow your own, you know exactly how your plants are raised. From the soil they are growing in, to the 100% organic fertilizers we use on them as they grow.
Finally, growing your own pepper plants from seed means you can save huge on gardening expenses. Growing from seed is far less expensive than purchasing store bought plants. And, if they happen to be open-pollinated heirloom varieties, you can even save the seeds to grow for free the following year!
With those advantages in mind, here is a look at how to grow your own pepper plants from seed. And even better, end up with gorgeous plants and your best pepper harvest ever!
How To Start Pepper Plants From Seed Indoors
Order Seeds Early
More than anything else, make sure to purchase your seeds early! Many seed companies often run out of stock early, especially when it comes to special varieties. But when it comes to peppers, there is another reason to order early too.
As you will see below, pepper seeds usually take a bit longer to germinate. In addition, many pepper varieties also often grow at a bit slower rate early on. Because of this, you will need to start them earlier than most other vegetable plants you start indoors. Eden Brothers Pepper Seeds – Pepper Seed Varieties
When To Start Pepper Seeds Indoors
The biggest difference in starting peppers compared to other vegetable seeds is when you need to start them. Quite simply, pepper seeds take longer to germinate. Especially some hot pepper varieties that can take 14 to 21 days just to sprout through the soil!
Listen In Below To Our Podcast On Starting Seeds Indoors
Because of this, we like to start all of our pepper plants about two weeks before our other vegetable seedlings. It allows them extra time to germinate and to grow a bit taller and beefier before planting day.
Typical vegetable plants usually require about six to eight weeks of planting and growing time before planting outdoors. With our peppers, we like to plant them about ten weeks before we will be planting them outdoors. This gives plenty of time to allow for slower germination and still let the peppers grow to good transplanting size.
Knowing Your Planting Date
To know when to start your pepper seeds indoors, simply count backward from your area’s last average frost date. This information can often be found on line or from your local extension office. Once you know that date, simply count backwards to come up with your planting date.
We actually like to add one or two more weeks to our average last frost date just to let the soil warm and make sure our plants might not get hit by a late frost. See our article : When To Start Seeds Indoors – How To Know The Best Time To Plant!
As an example, if our last average frost date was May 10th, we would add two weeks to that date and shoot for planting around May 24th. And from there, we would count back 10 weeks to know that we need to start our seeds around March 15th. Once you know your date, it’s time to get ready to plant!
Planting Pepper Seeds Indoors
As with starting all vegetable seeds indoors, great seed starting soil is critical to success. Avoid using straight potting soil or garden soil for your seeds. Both are simply too heavy and do not have enough nutrients to germinate and power seedlings.
Instead, purchase a high quality seed starting mix or create your own from basic ingredients. Good seed starting soil needs to be light, well draining and full of nutrients. It allows seeds to sprout and create strong roots with ease. For those that want to make their own mix, check out our article : How To Create Your Own Seed Starting Mix With Ease
Planting Pepper Seeds Indoors
Plant your pepper seeds about one-quarter to one-half inch deep into the soil. We use the eraser on the end of a pencil to push the seed down in the soil and cover it. Lightly mist the soil and then cover it with plastic wrap. This will hold in moisture and speed germination.
Place your seed trays in a warm room. Like all vegetable seeds, pepper seeds germinate faster with warm soil. One thing you don’t need to do is put the seeds under lights to get them to germinate. Contrary to popular belief, light is not a factor in germinating vegetable seeds.
The plastic wrap should hold moisture in, but if the seed soil dries out, mist again after a week or so. As soon as you see the first seedling or two pop through, it’s time to give the plants light. But whatever you do, don’t take those young seedlings to a windowsill!
Providing Light For Seedlings – How To Start Pepper Plants From Seed Indoors
Pepper seedlings will not grow well in light provided from a sunny windowsill. The light is too far away and there is not enough of it to help plants. Instead, use ordinary LED or fluorescent shop lights and place them right over the top of your pepper seedlings.
Shop lights are bright but cool. By hanging or placing them one to two inches over the tops of your seedlings, they will grow strong slowly. This avoids leggy and weak plants, and creates wonderfully strong transplants that perform well.
As plants grow, continue to move the lights up directly over top of their foliage. Water your plants as needed, being careful to not let them dry out completely in between waterings.
Fertilizing Young Seedling – How To Start Pepper Plants From Seed Indoors
Once your seedlings have sprouted and are a few weeks old, it is time to give them a boost. But the key here is to do it in the lightest and slightest of ways.
Too much fertilizer too early in a seedlings life can burn the roots and plant, killing it in the process. But a low and slow dose of natural power can really power up strong, steady growth. When it comes to fertilizing, there are a couple of great methods that work well.
For us, we love watering our plants with a light dose of compost tea or worm casting tea. Given at the four, six, eight and ten week mark, this can provide, safe and slow power for your plants.
As an alternative, you can also use a weakened all-purpose organic fertilizer as well. If using a commercial liquid fertilizer, mix at a rate of 1/4 of the recommended dose and apply only at the six and ten week mark. This will keep from overpowering plants. Product Affiliate Link: AgroThrive Fruit and Flower Organic Liquid Fertilizer.
Hardening Off Pepper Plants – How To Start Pepper Plants From Seed Indoors
Finally, make sure to harden off your plants a few weeks before planting them outdoors. This will allow the plants to toughen up before outdoor life.
To harden off plants, simply take them outdoors when the weather allows and place them in a protected space. A back porch, partial shaded patio or a deck all work well. Place the plants out for a few hours the first day, and then allow them to stay outside longer and longer as they adjust.
A week or so before planting, if the weather allow, let them remain outdoors. This will have them ready to hit the ground growing. Here is to growing your own pepper plants from seed this year! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
As always, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, or to simply say hello! You can sign up for our free email list in the subscribe now box in the middle of this article. Follow us on Facebook here : OWG Facebook. This article may contain affiliate links.