Grow hot peppers from seed

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PHOTO: Jessica Walliserby Jessica Walliser February 8, 2018

Starting your own garden seeds isn’t hard, nor is it expensive. Though you do need a few pieces of equipment, after a small initial investment, you can use those tools for many years. Seed starting allows you to grow dozens of plants from seed for the same price as buying a handful of them from a garden center. But, not all plants are easy to start from seed. While marigolds, tomatoes and basil are among the easiest, others require a bit more finesse. Peppers, whether hot or sweet, can prove challenging to some gardeners. Today we share 12 tips for starting pepper seeds to put you on the road to success.

1. Get the Timing Right

Unlike some other flower and vegetable varieties whose seeds germinate just a few days after planting, peppers take a good bit longer. Sometimes it takes two or three weeks for them to poke out of the soil. Peppers are one seed that you’ll want to start a bit earlier than other garden plants. Start sowing pepper seeds about 10 to 12 weeks before the last expected spring frost for your region. That will give the plants two to three weeks to germinate, followed by a good two months to grow before moving them outdoors.

2. Invest in a Light Source

Though you don’t need a special grow light to start peppers from seed, you should have a supplemental light source of some kind. A sunny windowsill will do just fine for most other garden seeds, but pepper seeds grow much better with a closer, more intense source of light. As far as tips for starting pepper seeds goes, buying a few shop lights fitted with fluorescent tubes and hanging them from the ceiling on adjustable chains will do wonders. Raise and lower the shop lights so the bulbs are constantly two to three inches above the plant tops.

3. Set the Lights on Timers

Use automatic timers so the lights run for 18-20 hours per day. If you don’t use timers, there’s a good chance you’ll forget to turn the lights on and off as necessary.

4. Use Clean, Sterile Containers

Though it’s tempting to reuse seeding flats from year to year, don’t do it, unless you sanitize them first. I use a 10 percent bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach) to kill any pathogens clinging to my seeding flats and nursery trays before using them to grow new seeds each season. You can also purchase new trays and flats each year. Peppers are prone to damping off and botrytis, two fungal diseases that can wipe out a tray of seedlings in short order.

5. Pick the Right Pottin Mix

Select a high-quality, peat-based, sterile potting soil formulated specifically for seed starting and you’ll have the most success starting peppers from seed. Do not reuse seed-starting potting soil and do not mix it with garden soil or even compost prior to use.

6. Invest in a Heat Mat

One of the most critical tips for starting pepper seeds is to spend the $20 to $30 needed to buy a heat mat. These flat, waterproof, electric mats are placed under newly seeded containers or trays and raise the soil temperature about 10 to 15 degrees above room temperature. For pepper seeds, warmer soil temperatures mean faster, and better, germination. Use the mat until the seedlings have developed their first true leaves, then remove it.

7. Mark Each Variety

You can use plastic plant tags, plastic picnic knives, pieces of cut yogurt cups or whatever you wish, but be sure to label each different pepper variety with it’s name and the date of planting. It will pay off in spades as the gardening season progresses.

8. Plant to the Correct Depth

Among the most useful tips for starting pepper seeds is to pay attention to the planting depth. Seeds that are planted too deeply might not sprout, while those planted too shallowly might dry out before they germinate. Pepper seeds should be planted about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch below the soil surface.

9. Cover the Seeded Tray With Clear Plastic

A simple sheet of clear plastic (I use dry cleaning bags or plastic kitchen wrap) creates a mini greenhouse over the seed trays, raising the humidity and keeping the soil constantly moist. After the trays are planted and watered in, lay the plastic over them. Remove it only when you need to water. But, as soon as the first few seedlings begin to sprout, remove it permanently, otherwise you could promote fungal diseases.

10. Water as Necessary

Check your seedlings every day and feel the soil to see if it’s time to water. The weight of the tray will also tell you whether irrigation is necessary. When you do water, make sure at least 20 percent of the water you pour onto the top drains out the drainage holes in the bottom of the flat. This flushes out excess fertilizer salts. When the seedlings develop their first true leaves

11. Feed Your Pepper Seedlings

When the seedlings develop their first true leaves, it’s time to start fertilizing them every two weeks. I use a diluted liquid organic fertilizer for this job, adding it to the irrigation water to feed the seedlings as I water.

12. Provide Good Air Circulation

This one is probably the most neglected of all of these tips for starting pepper seeds. As pepper seedlings grow, they need good air circulation to both avoid fungal diseases and strengthen their stems. Set an oscillating fan on a timer and have it run for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. It should blow across the tops of the seedlings, causing them to quiver a little as it passes.

Once your pepper seedlings reach a few inches tall, it’s time to transplant them into larger containers and care for them until it’s time to harden them off and move them out into the garden.

Hot Pepper Seedling Care – Growing Hot Peppers From Seed

If you’re interested in growing hot peppers from seed, you can choose from a huge variety of hot pepper plants, ranging from mildly warm and spicy poblanos to tolerably hot jalapenos. If you’re a seasoned pepper aficionado, plant a few habanero or dragon’s breath peppers. If you live in a warm climate, you can plant hot pepper seeds directly in the garden. Most people, however, need to start hot pepper seeds indoors. Let’s learn how to grow hot pepper seeds.

When to Start Hot Pepper Seeds

It’s good to get started about six to 10 weeks before the last average frost date in your area. In most climates, January is a great time for germinating hot pepper seeds, but you may want to start as early as November or as late as February.

Keep in mind that super hot peppers, like habanero or Scotch bonnet, take longer to germinate than milder peppers, and they also require more warmth.

Growing Hot Peppers from Seeds

Soak the hot pepper seeds in warm water overnight. Fill a tray of celled containers with seed-starting mix. Water well, then set the trays aside to drain until the mix is moist but not soggy.

Sprinkle seeds over the surface of the moist seed starting mix. Cover the tray with clear plastic or slide it into a white plastic garbage bag.

Germinating hot pepper seeds requires warmth. The top of a refrigerator or other warm appliance works well, but you may want to invest in a heat mat. Temperatures of 70 to 85 F. (21-19 C.) are ideal.

Check the trays frequently. The plastic will keep the environment warm and moist, but be sure to water or mist lightly if the seed starting mix feels dry.

Watch for the seeds to germinate, which may occur as soon as a week, or may take as long as six weeks, depending on temperatures and variety. Remove the plastic as soon as the seeds germinate. Place the trays under fluorescent bulbs or grow lights. The seedlings need at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Tips on Hot Pepper Seedling Care

Use scissors to cut the weakest seedlings in each cell, leaving the strongest, sturdiest seedling.

Place a fan near the seedlings, as a steady breeze will promote stronger stems. You can also open a window if the air isn’t too cold.

Transplant the seedlings to 3- to 4-inch pots (7.6-10 cm.) filled with regular potting mix when they’re large enough to handle.

Continue growing the hot pepper plants indoors until they’re large enough to transplant, hardening them off beforehand. Be sure the days and nights are warm with absolutely no risk of frost.

Scotch bonnets are among the hottest peppers in the world. The name might sound fun and happy, but the pepper itself is anything but. The typical spice rating of a Scotch Bonnet pepper is the same as a habanero. You don’t usually find these peppers at supermarkets in the US, but you do have a chance of finding it in stock if the local area has a large Caribbean population.

The reason why this happens is that the scotch bonnet pepper is one of the most commonly used hot peppers in the Caribbean islands. It is used in many of the meat dishes on the islands.

Why is it Called a Scotch Bonnet?

The name comes from its unique shape. If you’ve seen a scotch bonnet pepper before, you know that it is shaped like a squashed hat native to the Scottish people – a Tam o Shanter hat. That’s where the resemblance ends, though. The Scottish have had no influence in the cultivation of the pepper. You might also find Caribbean natives referring to it as the Bahama Mama or the Martinique.

A scotch bonnet pepper tastes rather sweet when you first bite into it, rather like a tomato. The taste is quite close to that of the habanero pepper. This is why it is such a popular choice for making hot sauces and dishes in the Caribbean islands.

Different Types of Scotch Bonnet Peppers Exist

There are many different varieties of the scotch bonnet pepper. There is the Tobago Scotch, the Scotch Bonnet Chocolate, and many more. Each has a slightly different flavor and spice level. The colors are also different, making this pepper an aesthetic addition to any vegetable garden as well.

Can You Grow Them?

The best part about growing yourself some scotch bonnet peppers is that you don’t have to live in Jamaica, where they grow natively, to cultivate them yourself. Most backyards and gardens in the US and other northern parts of the world are great for growing this pepper. They can make a great addition to any healthy meal that you make, as long as you add the pepper in moderation.

When you buy scotch bonnet pepper plants at a garden center, you might wonder what type you are buying. Most garden supply stores don’t state what variant of the pepper is in the plant. Most of the plants are simply labelled Scotch Bonnet and left at that. While this might be enough for you if all you are interested in is the pepper in general, it isn’t ideal for actual pepper fans.

One of the best variants to grow in a garden is the Scotch Bonnet Chocolate type. This is because the fruit of this plant has a brownish hue to it. However, you don’t have to stick to this. Pick out a color and type that suits your own preferences and needs. The Orange Scotch Bonnet is another great addition that can look absolutely wonderful in your garden!

Tips for Growing Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Start working on your plants a few months in advance of actually planting them. This applies especially if you are starting out with just the seeds of the pepper plant and nothing more. This way, when the weather outside is safe from frost, you can go outside and find seedlings.

Try to get your plants from nurseries in your local area. These are already acclimatized to your region. This means you won’t have a bunch of dead plants on your hands that couldn’t handle the harsher conditions in your area.

If you’re having trouble dealing with frost on the ground because you started too early, buy some large bottles of soda and cut them horizontally near the base. You can use each one of these as protective covers for your plants at night.

Get yourself a soil testing apparatus. Check the soil where you plan to plant the scotch bonnet peppers for its pH value. You need a pH that is slightly below 7.0 for the best results when growing your peppers. You should do this even if you only plan on planting the peppers in a container. If you have a lower pH than you need, increase the value by adding ground limestone to the soil. For higher values, adding sulfur can lower the value.

Composting your soil is very important indeed. Add a layer of at least four inches of compost and till the ground thoroughly before planting your peppers. You should work the compost and soil to a depth of about eight inches. This helps your scotch bonnets to work their roots in well.

Any pepper plant needs sunlight to survive just like any other vegetable. Since their native land is tropical in climate, you will need to give your plants at least four hours of sunlight a day at minimum.

When you first plant your peppers, ensure that the soil you’re planting them in is nice and moist. Dig your holes about as deep as the container the plants first came in. Leave a gap of about three feet between plants.

Too many people water their plants to the point that the plants drown in the saturated soil. Instead, keep your urges in check, especially when you see a blossom for the first time. As long as the soil is moist, you should be fine.

The Value of Growing Your Own Peppers

Scotch Bonnet peppers in particular are very beneficial to your health. Eating them regularly is recommended, but buying them from a store can be unreliable and expensive. The last thing you need is chemicals in the peppers from mass farms. Instead, work with peppers you have grown on your own.

You can use them to flavor your dishes whenever you need some extra spice, and you can use potted pepper plants in your home to brighten up a dull room. The many benefits of scotch bonnet peppers only serve to cement the fact that growing them is a great idea.

Photos c/o KJGarbutt, _sarchi, Starr Environmental

I have long considered the sensation of a hot pepper to be one of the most enjoyable in the world of food, and that is especially true for the wonderful scotch bonnet pepper.

The first time I ever had one was with at a Jamaican jerk chicken stand; a huge jar was right there on the counter with scotch bonnets fermenting inside, and the spice that the scotch bonnet brought to the chicken was incredible and like nothing else I’d ever tasted before, even as a fan of spicy food.

My love for peppery food is so immense that I’ve made it a habit to add ground chili pepper to any takeout food I order. Most restaurants are operating on a very weak definition of the word “spicy,” though that is admittedly more the fault of sensitive clientele than the chefs themselves.

I love the taste of extreme spice. Call me crazy; I take it as a compliment. So in love with pepper am I that I have taken it upon myself to read about its numerous species.

One of the first chillies I decided to look into were the spicy Scotch bonnet chillies. Read on as we explore the scotch bonnet pepper plant and how it is grown.

What Exactly is the Scotch Bonnet Pepper Plant?

Scotch bonnet pepper, also known as Bonney pepper or Caribbean red pepper, is one of the major cooking peppers, well-known for its profound hotness and incredible spiciness.

History has it that it gets its name from its shape, which corresponds to that of a Scotsman’s bonnet traditionally called a Tam o’Shanter hat. This contributes to the Scotch bonnet pepper dimensions; 1.5 inches tall with four globular ridges at the bottom.

Prevalent in the Caribbean, it possesses characteristics similar to those of the habanero (another very popular spicy Caribbean pepper) with a slight difference in the aspect of sweetness.

Most Scotch bonnet peppers have a heat rating of 80,000 to 400,000 Scoville units (the standard unit for measuring the hotness of spices), which is a really high level of hotness. For reference, a jalapeno only measures up to between 1,000 and 10,000 Scoville units.

Scotch bonnet peppers are used in a number of cuisines and pepper sauces. They belong to to several geographical regions like West Africa, Antigua, Anguilla, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, Guyana, Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Haiti, Panama and Cayman.

A dab’ll do you: to make that unique difference in your meals, only a small amount is needed. A small one or a low number of grains in its powdery form will still add a great deal of spiciness to your meal.

You don’t just go through them (Scotch bonnet chilies) by using one or two to spice up a dish; you maximize their potential by using them up in sauces.

Decorated chefs and experienced cooks have confirmed that restaurants would do well to incorporate the Caribbean red peppers into dishes generally, owing to the distinctiveness of Scotch bonnet peppers.

After all, they have nothing to lose, since these special vegetables (Scotch bonnet chilies) have varieties which can effectively blend in various condiments and cuisines.

There’s also the Dried Scotch Bonnet pepper; these ones are dark brownish-red in color and just like their fresh counterparts, they are extremely hot and serve as perfect alternatives to the habanero.

Dried scotch bonnet peppers are rich in flavors of smoke, dried flowers and tropical fruit aromatics; they are also a pure spice finish. However, they differ from the fresh scotch bonnet peppers in availability, as they are are available year-around.

Varieties of Scotch Bonnet Peppers

Scotch bonnet peppers differ in colors. Thanks to the different appearances of these peppers, individuals are able to use them to spice up almost any meal they desire. They include green, scarlet red, chocolate brown, pumpkin orange and lemon yellow just to mention a few.

The scotch bonnet chocolate is specifically a Jamaican pepper. Though scotch bonnet peppers mainly grow in the Caribbean, this one can be found thriving on the shores of Jamaica.

Its fruity and peppery flavor makes it a perfect item for the Jamaican cuisine as well as a suitable ingredient for the Caribbean Scotch bonnet pepper sauce. The scotch bonnet chocolate is dark green in its unripe state but when ripe, it turns chocolate brown.

Scotch bonnet red, on the other hand, is usually pale green when unripe but turns bright red once it matures.

Another remarkable variety of the scotch bonnet chilies is the scotch bonnet sweet. Just as the name implies, the hotness of this pepper is really tasty. In fact, this pepper is most suited for those staunch chili fans.

It is quite difficult to explain the flavor of this pepper, but I strongly recommend you use it in your pasta dishes; it will give your pasta sauce a whole new definition.

The last one I will discuss is the scotch bonnet Burkina yellow which comes from an African plant. It is a rare variety, so rare that it’s the dream of every pepper collector. Luckily for you, the guide to planting it can be found below. Know that I have saved the best for the last.

Sounds awesome, right?

One thing you should know is that the Yellow scotch bonnet pepper is extremely hot and you must exercise great care when adding it to your dish.

Its taste is unique and different from all other varieties of scotch bonnet peppers; thus it is one of the main reasons behind the fantastic taste of Caribbean dishes. It’s color when unripe is light green but when it ripens, it becomes lemon yellow.

My unquenchable interest in hot peppers didn’t stop at just finding out their origin and varieties — it drove me to embrace the skill of growing them from the earth in my very own backyard.

Since they are only common in the Caribbean and Central America, I had to place an order online for the Scotch bonnet seeds for planting.

Thereafter, I took online tutorials to find out the best methods of planting. I practiced them a great deal and now I can confidently say that I have gained some mastery of them.

Believe me when I tell you that growing peppers is rather easy, but you have to take into account the fact that peppers can be both temperamental and picky. Nonetheless, I will readily share with you the steps required for growing Scotch bonnet peppers.

How to Grow Scotch Bonnet Peppers?

Here’s how to grow the prestigious Yellow scotch bonnet pepper. Let me begin with the necessary prerequisites:

Choose a sunny spot in a garden. Peppers grow well with plenty of sun and warm soil. I suggest you use a raised bed or an area of a garden with good drainage.

Grow the seedlings indoors yourself or buy them from a well-stocked nursery instead to save time. In Mediterranean regions, Scotch bonnet pepper seedlings go into the ground in May. At this period, the air temperature at night is just above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then as for those in areas with winter, planting of the seedling is done usually about one week before St. Patty’s day (17th March) or about 8 to 10 weeks before the last snow falls.

Equipment

  • A soil test kit or professional test results
  • pH correcting amendments, as needed (e.g. limestone or peat moss)
  • Compost
  • Spade
  • Garden hose or drip irrigation system
  • Buckets (2)
  • Colloidal phosphate
  • Towel

Steps

  1. Determine the pH level of your soil using a soil test kit. You can get one at any garden center nearest to you.
  2. Correct the pH balance of your pepper patch soil, if necessary. Hot peppers thrive best in soils that are between 6.0 and 6.8. If you find your pH level acidic or lower than 6, add ground limestone. If it is neutral to alkaline or higher than 6.8, add sulfur or peat moss.
    On your chosen amendment are package directions on how many points are required to adjust the pH as well as the number of square feet your scotch bonnet plot is. Make sure you follow these instructions.
    Till the amendment into the soil before you plant the peppers. This step should be carried out several weeks before planting Scotch bonnet seedlings.
  3. Lay a 3-to-4 inch layer of compost over the garden plot and till the compost into the top 6-to-8 inches of the soil. This step is necessary because it increases soil fertility and improves the soil texture.
    This means it can be done at the same you work limestone, sulfur or peat moss into the soil to adjust the pH level. This should also be undertaken several weeks before planting Scotch bonnet seedlings.
  4. Moisten the garden bed before you begin to plant the seedlings.
  5. Dig holes in the soil that are about the size of the pots/containers in which the Scotch bonnet seedlings are to grow, making them slightly wider. The holes should be made 3 feet apart in their rows, while the rows should be 4 to 5 feet apart.
  6. Carefully slide the seedlings out of their growing pots, making sure you don’t lift the plants by their leaves. Loosen the roots if they have formed a tangle at the bottom of the pot.
  7. Fill one bucket with colloidal phosphate and one with compost. The phosphate helps to prevent the occurrence of blossom end rot in peppers, while compost boosts fertility and evenly spreads the phosphate in the planting hole.
  8. Add one handful of colloidal phosphate to the first planting hole, and then one handful of compost.
  9. Fix a Scotch bonnet seedling in the first hole and make firm the soil around it to prevent air pockets.
  10. Keep planting the remaining Scotch bonnet seedlings by first adding handfuls of phosphate and compost, fixing the seedlings in their planting holes and making firm the soil around them.
  11. Water the soil in the garden spot thoroughly should it dry out during planting.
  12. Set mulch around the seedlings to suppress weeds and store water.

Useful Tips to Note When Growing

  • Scotch bonnet peppers need equally moist soil during the flowering and fruit set period. Once the peppers have fully surfaced, you can regulate how hot they are by adjusting the water they receive.
    The less water they receive while ripening, the hotter they will taste after harvest. You must not subject the plants to too much stress in order to prevent the foliage and fruit from withering.
  • If your growing region experiences pest infestations, place a floating row cover over the scotch bonnet seedlings immediately when you are done the planting.
    These lightweight fabric covers prevent bugs from gaining access to the plants but allow air and water into them. Take the covers off once the plants produce blossoms so that pollinating insects can have their way in the flowers. Remember, pollination increases pepper yield.

Caution: wear gloves to handle pepper plants and harvested peppers. Never wipe your eyes after handling the peppers; thoroughly wash your hands and other parts of your body that come in contact with them.

Conclusion

The scotch bonnet pepper plant is a crop that would grow in the corners of every neighborhood if I had it my way.

Don’t take it from me, though. Its immense contribution to life in the area of flavor and spice is reason enough why you shouldn’t hesitate to start growing hot peppers!

Hundreds of cultivars are available, with more coming on the market frequently, as breeders work to outdo each other and create “the hottest pepper ever.”From innocuous bell to mild green jalapeño (2,500-8,000 Scoville heat units) to medium-hot bird’s eye (100,000-225,000 SHU) to tongue-scorching Trinidad scorpion (1,463,700 SHU), there’s a chili for any palette.

If mild is more your style, start with jalapeño, perhaps with these seeds available from Benjawan via Amazon.

Jalapeño Chile Pepper, 100 Seeds

You’ll receive 100 seeds.

Poblanos — known as “ancho” when dried — are fairly mild as well, at 1,000-2,000 on the Scoville scale, but are larger and supply a delicious flavor.

Ancho Grande Pepper Seeds

Find poblano seeds in various quantities at True Leaf Market.

If you’re willing to be a bit more adventurous, consider cayenne, which hits the scale at 50,000 to 100,000 SHU. Find seeds for this spicy delight at PowerGrow Systems, available via Amazon.

Cayenne Red Long Pepper Seeds

The approximately 100 seeds in the packet will produce heavy yields of finger-width, thin-walled red peppers that can grow up to 12 inches long. Cayenne is a good variety for eating fresh or for drying.

A favorite in Texas gardens is the chili pequin. These tiny little pearls of spiciness come in at 40,000 to 60,000 on the Scoville scale.

Pequin Chili Pepper Live Plants

Available via Amazon, Hottest Plants will ship you a live 4- to 6-inch plant that will bear fruit in about 100 days. This plant can get quite large and will die out with a cold snap, but comes back year after year in Texas.

If you really want to fry your family’s tongues, grow Scotch bonnet from Harley Seeds, available through Amazon.

Heirloom Scotch Bonnet Pepper Seeds

Closely related to habanero, Scotch bonnet falls at between 150,000 and 325,000 on the Scoville scale. You’ll receive about 30 seeds that produce a compact plant with plentiful thin-skinned peppers that are closely related to the habanero.

In 2013, the Guiness Book of World Records certified the Carolina Reaper as the hottest variety, with one specimen hitting the Scoville scale at 2.2 million.

Carolina Reaper Pepper Plants

If you’re brave enough to try the Reaper, find plants for this cultivar from Hirt’s Garden, available via Amazon.

Share and Share Alike

You can grow peppers from seeds or from nursery starts. Whichever you go with, keep in mind that you will get plenty of chilies from just a couple of plants.

Whenever I buy a six-pack of pepper starts, I share some with my neighbor Louie, and vice versa. This way we each get a variety of cultivars, and not too many of any one type.

If you wish to grow from seeds, start them indoors 8 to 10 weeks before you intend to transplant, which should be two to three weeks after the expected last frost.

Pepper seeds require warm temperatures (70 to 80°F) to germinate. Some gardeners use a warming mat, such as this one from Vivosun, available via Amazon.

Vivosun Durable Waterproof Seedling Heat Mat, 10 x 20.75″

Place your seed tray on this mat to encourage germination and keep the seedlings’ roots warm. You can transfer them outside when night temperatures average around 55 to 60°F.

Some gardeners place seeds between sheets of damp paper towel, put that inside a zippered plastic bag, and place the bag in a warm place, such as the top of a refrigerator.

When the seeds sprout, plant them in small pots, and place in a sunny southern window.

When the nights are warm and it’s time to transplant outdoors, select a spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day.

These spicy edibles prefer well-drained sandy loam with plenty of organic matter. Space plants 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on variety.

Unlike with tomatoes, you don’t need to bury the stem of peppers; just dig a small hole and set the starts into the soil at the same level at which they were previously growing.

Water well, and fertilize with a 10-10-10 mix, working the fertilizer into the soil.

As the growing season progresses, water your plants enough to keep them from wilting. Apply more fertilizer when the first fruits begin to enlarge.

Weed by hand to avoid damaging roots.

Pests? Really?

Peppers can be plagued by flea beetles, which can be treated with diatomaceous earth. Or mix up a solution of 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 2 1/2 cups water, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap. Spray the mixture on the pepper plants.

If you’re really desperate, you can use a chemical treatment, such as Sevin Bug Killer. But keep in mind that it is extremely toxic, and any vegetables sprayed with it should not be eaten for at least 3-14 days. Chemical pesticides should only be used when there is a clear need, and many gardeners would advise using them only as a last resort.

Aphids can also be a problem. For these pests, try neem oil, such as this one from Garden Safe via Amazon.

Garden Safe Neem Oil Extract Concentrate

This concentrated product will make 16 gallons of treatment.

Neem oil will also address leaf spot, which is often caused by a fungus.

Pepper Seed Germination

Successful pepper seed germination requires a few things: heat (80˚-90˚ F), consistent moisture, and moderate light.

Heat: 80˚-90˚F
Warmth is of the utmost importance, and you’ll find if you provide heat (such as using a seedling mat or putting somewhere warm), you’ll have a much faster & higher germination.
Seed Scarification
Some people also scar (rub) the seeds with sandpaper or a nail file to help them hatch.
Consistent Moisture
There are ways to keep your seeds moist, one popular way is the Paper Towel Method.

Paper Towel Method:
Just lay a paper towel on the counter and spray or mist to dampen, then place pepper seeds about 1-2″ apart in a grid on half of the paper towel. Fold over, then spray or drizzle more water to get the towel fully damp. Then, you can put the paper towel into a glass or plastic container with a lid or a ziplock bag to keep it moist. Place in a warm area (80-90˚) with moderate light (not full sun). Make sure the towel stays damp, and leave a little opening in the container or bag so a little air can get in. Once you see sprouts, you can tear the seedling with the paper towel and plant it in good seedling potting soil, or, if desired, gently remove the seedling from the paper towl and press into soil. With this paper towl method, you don’t have to worry about the seeds drying out before they sprout! Just don’t forget about them.
Soil Method:
Soak seeds overnight before planting. Pepper seeds need light, well-draining soil to germinate and then grow to a transplantable size. Seedling Mix and Sunshine Mix #4 works well or something similar with small particles and good drainage. Avoid heavy clay and potting mix. When your peppers are ready to be transplanted outside, it is always a good idea to amend your garden soil with mature compost prior to planting. This will ensure the plants have the nutrients they need straight away.

Sow one seed in each seedling tray compartment about 1/4” deep into the pre-moistened seedling mix. Provide constant bottom heat, such as from a heating pad. Make sure to keep the soil damp (but not soggy). Keep out of direct sunlight, but in a bright warm place.

Germination should occur within 7-21 days but sprouting can take up to 40 days, so be patient!

Sprouted Pepper Seedlings:
Once your chile pepper seeds sprout, give them a gentle breeze from a fan or brush with your hands to strengthen their stems. DON’T OVERWATER peppers, they do not like wet feet and will look yellowing and sickly if overwatered. Learn more about how to fix weak pepper seedlings “

Learn more about How to grow Peppers from Seed “

How To Grow Hot Peppers From Seed

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!

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