Pepper Seeds

Germinating Hot Pepper Seeds

Germinating hot pepper seeds is a little different from germinating sweet peppers, at least in my experience.  And the more exotic the pepper, the more particular they may be about sprouting.

Here are some tips for growing hot chile peppers from seeds.

Peppers Like it Hot!

While you can coax sweet and bell peppers to germinate in a moderate soil of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit, the chile peppers like their roots warmer…sometimes much warmer!  In fact, some of the hottest of the peppers — like habanero, jolokia and scotch bonnet — prefer soil temperatures of 85 degrees or more before raising their little heads.

If you’re lucky enough to be gardening in a warm climate where the soil is already 80 degrees or more, you’ll likely be able to get the seeds to sprout.  If you’re like the vast majority of us, those hot pepper seeds will need a little help.  Even I need help in S. Florida during the winter and early spring!

Have They Spouted Yet?

Another trait hot peppers like jalapenos, cayenne, datil and more share is a long germination time.  While sweet peppers can spring above ground within 7 to 10 days, hot peppers tend to take longer.  Sometimes a lot longer!

I’ve found that most of my hot peppers sprout within a 12 to 18 day period.  However, the very hottest can take up to a month (and boy, is the wait ever hard).

Help for Germinating Hot Pepper Seeds

Warmth is the biggest key in successfully germinating the chile pepper seeds. If you have a very warm spot in your home, like on a radiator, you may be good to go. For the rest of us, a seed germination mat is the best way to safely and gently warm the soil.

Something else I’ve found very useful, which surprised me in my trials, is using Terracycle. Terracycle is a gentle liquid fertilizer made from worm castings. After I moisten my seed-starting mix normally, I plant my seeds. After lightly covering my seeds with more soil mix, I spray Terracyle on the soil to dampen. Then, I give the soil a spritz every 2 or 3 days, to keep things moist.

Between the heat mat and the Terracycle, I’ve been able to shave time off the normal germination period, between 2 and 7 days.  That may not sound like a lot earlier, but for anyone who’s (impatiently) waiting, any time saved is helpful.

One thing you don’t need for germination is light — seeds germinate fine in the dark. However, once the seeds have germinated, you’ll need to ensure the seedlings get 12 to 16 hours of light a day. A sunny windowsill is great, but I’ve also found that using fluorescent light bulbs works well (especially when I run out of space on my windowsills). 🙂

If you are looking for a seed germination mat, here are some for your consideration. Happy hot peppers!!!

Pepper Plants and Seeds

Pepper plants and seeds are fun to work with (as you probably already know).  So today is an update on the peppers and chiles that I have on deck — plants and seeds.

Bell Pepper, Yellow

This is a plant that I bought, with hopes of getting some more bells.  As you’ll remember in some of my growing peppers in Florida posts, I traditionally have a hard time with bell peppers.  This time I decided to just buy a plant and hope for the best.

It’s doing fairly well, and some blossoms are getting ready to appear — at least six so far.  I’d have liked the plant to be a little larger, but I’ll see what happens.  The size may have something to do with the fact that it’s been cooler than normal these last few weeks — days in the 60’s to low 70’s, nights in the 40’s.

Sweet Banana Peppers

The next on deck and growing well are the Sweet Banana peppers.  I love the sweet bananas, and they are still a way from planting out in the garden, but they’ve been doing well, in spite of the cooler weather (I have them outdoors in a protected location).

Redskin Bell

Redskin, a bell with a “weeping” habit, is doing well.  I figured I’d try another kind of bell, and grow it out on the screened patio in a pot, see what happens.

Purira Chile Pepper

I love growing the hot peppers that look like Christmas trees, with candles of all kinds of colors.  Purira is a pretty hot pepper with tons and tons of cone-shaped fruits.  Colors vary between ivory, yellow, purple, orange and red, with all colors appearing at any given time.  Ornamental, but drop one small ripe pepper in a pot of chile and watch out!

Pretty in Purple Pepper (Hot)

Pretty in Purple is one is another of the ornamental but hot peppers.  The leaves and stems are mostly purple, and the peppers are purple, ripening to red hot red.  Put one or two in your chili for a nice heat.

Sweet Pickle

Name notwithstanding, I like to eat these Sweet Pickle peppers fresh.  Kind of remind me of the Purira chile, with a Christmas tree appearance.  These are great sliced up in salads, soups and salsa.  Not hot at all — just sweet.  One of these days I’ll have to try pickling them.

The Really Hot Chiles

My bhut jolokia has arrived, and I’m waiting for the mustard habaneros to show up.  Thai hot, peter pepper, datil and hot-banero are also waiting in the wings.  Hot-banero is the hottest habanero I’ve ever grown (my own strain), and I want to see how it stacks up against jolokia and the mustard habanero.

I’m not in a super-hurry for the really hot peppers; they like the warmth and it’s still pretty cool.  In my experience, the hotter the pepper, the warmer the soil it needs to germinate, and the longer it takes to germinate.  I don’t plan on putting any of the really hot chiles out in the garden until maybe the beginning of  March.

But I will very shortly be germinating some jalapeno seeds — Jalapeno M variety.  Debating on trying the Jaloro as well; those are some of my legacy (i.e. 10-year-old) seeds.  Germination for the older seeds has been kind of low, but we’ll see what happens.  Jaloro is a yellow jalapeno, instead of the usual green.  But I like to use it red, which gives it a really nice kick.

Pepper Seed Varieties

I love peppers, so I am always on the lookout for new pepper seed sources.  Sometimes I like hot (chile) peppers, other times I want the sweeter (bell, banana) peppers for my palate.

So was I ever surprised when I found some neat pepper seeds where I didn’t expect them — ebay!

Chile Pepper Seeds

Now when I say chile pepper, I am including all the hot peppers – not just the ones with “chile” as part of their name.  And there are lots and lots of hot pepper seeds to pick!

Some of the hot pepper seed varieties I saw included

Well, that’s just a small sampling of the hot pepper seeds that I saw — lots more varieties are available.

Sweet Peppers

Not to be outdone, there were also plenty of sweet and bell peppers available, too.  I love hot chile peppers, but I also adore sweet peppers and bell peppers, too.  While for whatever reason I tend to have problems with growing bells, I can grow the other sweet peppers ’til the cows come home!

Some of the interesting sweet peppers that I saw were:

There are a whole lot more of the non-chile-pepper-type seeds.  I couldn’t believe the variety I saw!

Well, I need to get shopping, because fortunately, Florida summers are great for growing hot peppers (unless we get a hurricane, that is).  I saw quite a few new varieties that I want to try!