Starting Pepper Seeds Indoors

Starting Pepper Seeds Indoors
Do you often go to the greenhouse or nursery and leave feeling depressed because they didn't have the variety you wanted to plant. Or maybe they had the variety, but the prices made you stagger and almost fall over. To avoid this stress in your life, why not start your own pepper seeds, indoors, early in the season. Peppers take longer to mature than most plants, so they should be started early in the season.

Prepare the Seed Tray

Decide which peppers you want to grow. There are so many varieties to choose from like sweet, hot, or salsa. Fill a seed starting flat with seed starter potting soil. Leave the soil 1/4 to 1/2 inch below the rim.

If you are sowing different pepper varieties, mark each row as you plant them. You can use a tag with the variety written on one side with a waterproof marker. I will sometimes take a crayon or other wax marker and mark my rows on my seed tray with numbers. On a separate piece of paper, I will write down the peppers name and the number row they are planted in. That way, it's easy to keep track of the pepper plants and know which ones grew the best or germinated first.

Water the soil in the seed tray until it is moist. Don’t make the soil soggy or the seeds will rot.

Sowing The Seeds

Plant the pepper seeds in rows spacing the seeds 1/2 inch to 1 inch apart. This way, when you remove the pepper plants for transplanting, the roots won’t be tangled that you damage them. Barely cover the seeds with potting soil, so they are 1.4 inch deep. Lightly press the soil with your hand so the seed coat is in contact with the soil. Don’t compact the soil too much because it will turn hard and your seeds will have a hard time germinating.

Find a Warm Location

Mist the top of the soil with water. Cover the tray with a sheet of plastic or if your germination flat came with a lid, use that instead. The soil needs to remain around 70° Fahrenheit for the seeds to germinate. You can use a heat mat if you have one, but I place mine on top of the freezer toward the back where the coils are located. Check the soil daily for moisture and mist if the soil starts to dry out. If mold starts growing on the surface of the soil, remove the plastic or lid for 15 minutes so the air can circulate. The pepper seeds will usually germinate in 7 days, or longer. Remove the plastic when the seeds have sprouted.


Place the pepper plants in a sunny window, or under grow lights. Leave the grow lights on 14 to 16 hours a day. Remember to water them when the soil is dry or they will die. This is a critical time for the young plants. They need a moist soil, but not soggy, or they will rot.


Transplant the peppers when they have their first set of true leaves. They are not the first two leaves you see because those are the primary leaves. The true leaves will be the next set of leaves.

You can transplant them into cell packs or 4-inch pots. Continue to care for the plants indoors, until all danger of frost is past. After that, transplant them into the prepared garden.

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