Growing hot peppers from seed is rewarding and easy to do.
There’s nothing like seeing the tiny seeds you gently nurture grow into thriving, robust plants bearing some of the hottest eats in the world. Start the seeds indoors in containers, preferably in a sunny windowsill or on a countertop that gets lots of light. Your seedlings will need at least six hours of sunlight. Most hot peppers grow best in warm environments, so the warmer the spot, the better the seedlings will do.
Soak the seeds overnight.
Soak your seeds in warm tap water overnight to soften the shell casing. This gives the seeds a head start, helping the roots to break through. Soaking the pepper seeds speeds up germination. Peppers germinate best at about 80 degrees. At cooler temperatures, the seeds will take longer to germinate. Fill seedling starter trays three-quarters full of potting mix and place 3 or 4 hot pepper seeds in each container. You do not want them to be more than ¼ inch deep. Pepper seeds do not need light to germinate.
Create a mini-greenhouse environment.
Cover the plants to create a mini indoor greenhouse or use plastic wrap on top of the containers. Check your seeds daily and make sure the soil is moist. You can mist the soil gently with a water bottle. Don’t let the soil dry out and don’t overwater the seeds.
Sprinkling a pinch of cinnamon on top of the seed-starting mix deters mold from growing. Not to worry, the cinnamon will not affect the taste of the hot peppers. Continue watering. After several days, you will see tiny green upside-down U-shaped seedling emerge. Remove the plastic wrap once the seedlings emerge.
The big day: Moving the pepper seedlings outside.
Now that your plants are thriving, they can be transplanted into the garden. Plants should be moved outdoors when they are twelve inches tall. Handle the seedlings gently. Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart and leave two to three feet between rows.
Add a heaping dose of organic fertilizer to feed your seedlings. Use mulch around the plants to keep weeds out and maintain moisture. Grass clippings or straw make excellent mulch. Since peppers are self-pollinators, don’t plant different varieties close together if you intend to save seeds for planting next year’s crop. Fertilize the plants when you first move them outside and again as soon as you see the tiny peppers forming. Hot pepper plants mature in 70 to 90 days. Enjoy the mouthwatering goodness of your harvest!