This post contains affiliate links. If you buy through these links, I may earn a small commission.
Peppers are a great vegetable to grow, whether you grow sweet peppers in the garden or hot peppers in containers on your patio or balcony. And, peppers are easy to grow, which is a bonus. Here are some tips for starting pepper plants from seed.
How to Grow Peppers from Seed
You are always better off to start peppers indoors from seed, rather than planting pepper seeds right into the garden. Peppers take a long time to germinate and they like heat and light while they get settled.
It is really common for pepper seed to take over 14 days to germinate – seriously. So, plant seed and then try not to worry when after 12 days you STILL don’t see any action.
Just give them a little water and leave them alone. And don’t start pulling your hair out – chances are they are sprouting and just haven’t broken the soil yet.
You can start pepper seeds in a container in the windowsill or set the little pots under lights in a warm spot. They will sprout a bit earlier under lights, especially because they get a couple more degrees of warmth, which all peppers love.
When I plant the seeds, I always plant two per cup. Sometimes a seed won’t germinate and this way I increase my odds of getting plants. You can see in the photo, two seeds came up in one cup and none came up in the other.
We use recycled clean Styrofoam cups, which actually work great. Mostly because the cup is tapered and that alone makes transplanting a total breeze.
We let the peppers grow for a couple of weeks (still under lights) and then we carefully transplant them into individual cups.
When you separate the plants, make sure you water them first.
The wet soil makes it easier to very gently move the soil away from the roots, making it easier to carefully separate the two plants. Of course, if the seeds were planted far enough apart, you just need to split the soil and transplant.
It always works best if you can take soil from around the roots – in other words, don’t expose all the roots to the air. Leave them covered in soil.
But if the seedlings are too close, then be really careful and don’t pull them apart roughly. Sometimes what I will do if a LOT of seedlings have germinated is, I will just snip one seedling with scissors and toss. Your call.
Size of Container for Transplanting Peppers
Peppers like to be cozy; they like a smaller pot especially when the plants are really small. So resist the urge to transplant peppers into large containers; that can come later.
When we separate the plants we just use the same cups. Every pepper gets its own cup. Label the cups with a Sharpie if you are growing several different kinds.
The plants all look very similar when they are growing and it isn’t until peppers are fruiting and growing that you can tell if it is a sweet Bell pepper or a Jalapeno.
Use good quality potting soil and just keep watering them when the soil feels dry. Just leave them in these small containers until the temperatures are warm enough they can go outside.
Transplanting Peppers into Large Containers or in the Ground
If you can, let your pepper plants get a bit rootbound in their cups. Once the outside temperature is warm enough, you can transplant them once last time.
Remember to be aware of night time temperatures! Peppers love heat and they love the sun. They don’t like cold nights or cool windy days.
Pick a large enough container; you can easily grow 2 or 3 peppers together in a big patio container. Peppers don’t get really long roots, so there is room under that soil for several plants.
We plant them either right in the ground inside or in separate containers. I like a few plants on our porch alongside our annual flowers too. Pepper plants have really beautiful foliage.
After they are transplanted, it’s just a matter of regular watering and letting them grow.
How long do Pepper plants take to grow?
Peppers do take quite awhile to grow, especially hot peppers. Some hot peppers will take up to about 150 days; check the seed package for maturity dates for your variety.
Sweet Bell peppers usually take about 75 days to so; again check your seed package. One bonus if you plant Peppers in pots is that you can just take the whole pot inside if the outside temperatures get too cold.
Peppers don’t have to be picked at their prime – you can easily pick a sweet pepper while it is still on the small side. If you’re making a chili, gently pick a Cayenne, dice it up and toss it in.
When the peppers are truly ready, pick them all. Use them to eat fresh or in cooking. Pickle some to enjoy in the months to come.
Make some Hot Pepper Jelly! You can also let Cayenne and other peppers dry completely then store in a mason jar to use in the winter.
Ever wondered how small of a container you can grow a Pepper Plant in? Take a look at this…
Here’s how to grow as much food as possible in a small garden space.
Want to find out which are The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow?
Grab the free download available only to subscribers!