How to Grow Peppers from Seed

Lately, I cringe every time we buy peppers at the store, and we eat a lot of peppers. Bell peppers and hot peppers are once again on the dirty dozen list due to the pesticide residue detected on the peppers after washing. While I wish we could afford to buy organic-only produce it is just not the case, which is one of the reasons why we try to grow a lot of our own food. 
We always grow peppers from seed, but this year we've made an effort to grow more peppers and to grow a greater variety of peppers from seed. 

Please read on to learn how to grow peppers or watch this YouTube video we've made about How to Grow Peppers

Whether you're growing green peppers, chili peppers, jalapeƱo peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, ghost peppers, or any other type of peppers, all peppers are grown from seed in the same way. 

Scotch bonnett peppers

If you've never grown a pepper from seed, we highly encourage you to start. If you buy a starter plant at one of the home stores, you will likely pay anywhere from $3 - $7 per plant and it will likely have been grown with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Instead of buying one plant, buy yourself a pack of organic pepper seeds for less than $4, or buy an organic pepper at the grocery store. 

The growing space around our house is very limited and we have even less growing space in the sun, so we now mainly use the sunny space around our home to start seeds and small plants that need to be watered often. 

We start pepper seeds indoors beginning in November, and by January we can actually start picking peppers inside. In most of the US, pepper plants are grown as annuals, but here in Florida peppers are mostly short-lived perennials. Not all pepper plants survive every winter here in Zone 9b, but many do, and during mild winters, we often pick peppers all the way into December before the plants go dormant. Once the temperatures start heating up, the pepper plants start growing again becoming bushy and producing even more than the first year. 

How to grow peppers

How to grow peppers

How to Grow Peppers

  1. Place pepper seeds in a container with soil and cover with 1/2 - 1 inch of soil.
  2. Or place individual seeds in their own small pots or containers. 
  3. Place the container(s) in a spot with good sunlight.
  4. Water every day in the beginning.
  5. Once the seedlings sprout, water when the soil is dry or every other day.
  6. Plant seedlings out into the garden when they're 5+ inches tall.
  7. Make sure they get full sun or only have part shade.
  8. Use bamboo sticks or other sticks on hand to support the pepper plants.
  9. If you have woodchips available, cover the ground around the pepper plants to prevent soil and soil-borne diseases from splashing up on your pepper plants.
  10. Water daily until the pepper plants have rooted well.
  11. Once the pepper plants have settled and rooted well you can water once a week if it doesn't rain. 

How to Grow Pepper Tips:

  • In colder months start planting seeds indoors. 
  • We like to start our seeds in small containers indoors or outdoors, then plant them out into the garden when they're strong enough to handle heavy rainfall.
  • If growing peppers inside, turn the pot at least once a week so all plants get good sunlight.
  • Gently brush your hand over the pepper plants when small so they grow stronger. Outdoors the wind helps the plants grow strong, inside a fan or your hand movement will have to do. 
  • Plant different pepper varieties 50+ feet apart if you want to save seeds for the next growing season. 
  • If your pepper plants get too much sun in the heat of summer, you can plant a fast-growing plant such as Mexican sunflower (tithonia diversifolia) next to them to block out a little of the sun. These can easily be cut down in the fall or when they get too tall. 
  • Saving pepper seeds is easy, so save the seeds from your favorite homegrown peppers this season. 
  • Seeds from hot peppers burn your skin, so do not touch them with your fingers.

  • How to grow peppers from seed

We have pepper plants of all types growing all over, but because we save seeds, we do try to grow each variety at least 50 feet away from each other. If you get too many peppers, you can easily freeze or pickle them for later use. In the food forest, we plant in between other plants and in bigger patches together. We also grow several peppers in pots around the house, but because these grow near other varieties, we do not save the seeds from these peppers. 

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