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 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!