Chili Pepper Germination.

Hello All,
I sowed several varieties of Chili Pepper seeds on March 30th Some of them were Bhuts, Scotch Bonnets, Chocolate Hab, Trinidad 7 pot, Bishop's Crown and a few others. I am using a perlite mix from a garden store that is for seedlings and am keeping the seeds warm in the dirt, some are on top of a floor heat vent, some on a heat mat, some are on top of my cable tv box and some in the stereo cabinet. The temperature seems to be warm enough and I am not getting molds (so far.) Only two of the 200 seeds that I have sown are coming up. Since most of the articles that I have read say that with optimum temps and regular watering I should have seen them sprouting. Some articles say it can take a month for some varieties. My question is this. With temps in the mid 70's and regular watering should I have seen them sprout already? What is the normal time I should be looking for. I am wondering because it is starting to drive my wife nuts with dozens of seeds in cups and pan all over the house. I am also hoping that I am not doing anything wrong. I got the seeds from which I believe is reputable. Do I just need some more patience?

Galesburg, IL

Don't worry. With chili (particularly the hotter ones) germination can take 3-4 weeks. Optimal temps for chili (depending on your source) recommend between 80-85 degrees and even then it may take a month. It can also depend on seed source. I have habanero seed from two sources this year and one germinated in 6 days and the other took 18 days. I have another source for some seranno seed and they seem to be taking about 3 weeks to germinate.

You said "regular watering" I am assuming that you have no covers on your pots/cups and they are drying out. When I seed anything, I pre-water the soil to the moisture level I want, seed and cover pots/trays, etc with either a plastic dome or a sheet of plastic held on with a rubber band and it is rare that anything needs any more water until they sprout and are actively growing.

If you want to check on your seeds, gently use a pocket knife to brush away the soil a little at a time and check to see if some of them have sprouted. I would guess that they have and just haven't emerged yet.

One more tip: If I am mass seeding something (more that one seed per container) I always plant them in the same physical pattern in the container. I.E. for a small square pot (2.5") I will seed 5 pepper seeds, one in each corner and one in the middle. That way if you need to check seeds for rot, you don't have to dig up the whole surface to find one seed.

Thank you very much for your reply. I am very excited to day as 7 have sprouted and are coming up very nicely. I imagine the rest will all start popping their heads up soon. Some cups I keep in the tv cabinet where it is nice and warm, the soil is damp and they are covered in plastic wrap. This little greenhouse appears to be working well. The chocolate haberneros are taking a bit longer along with the scotch bonnets and other hotter peppers but from what I understand, the hotter the pepper the longer the wait. I am just absolutely thrilled that the others are coming along. YAY!

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

I made the mistake this year of putting my sweet peppers, hot peppers, and tomatoes in the same flat. The tomatoes were up in a week. The sweet peppers were up in less than two. The hot peppers took about three weeks to come up.


Central, TX(Zone 8b)

This article gives lots of good advice for starting hot pepper seeds...

I've used the bleach solution soak & rinse method for my hot pepper seeds with great success! They germinate evenly and much quicker than if not treated, provided bottom heat (seedling heat mat) and moist, not sodden, fresh seed starting mix (without fertilizer) was used to begin with; I also have shop light fixtures with full spectrum daylight bulbs to provide enough light for them to grow without stretching.

Give it a try!


Sugar Land, TX

I recently found a blog on the web that explained that the reason most of the pepper seeds will not germinate...or rarely germinate was most of us were using the little peat pots or the swell up peat capsules. Or...using seed starter that had more peat than a usual starter mix.
It was found that most of the pepper seeds do not do well in a more acid environment. So, I have changed over to using the small bathroom drink cups and have holes poked in the bottom for drainage. The germination mix recommended is Miracle Gro Orchid mix...not the bark chunk...also as a second...Miracle Gro Organic Choice. They have more hardwood products in them...
Use of the peat pots, I suppose is fine for things like other veggie plants and tomatoes.
All the other neat stuff about heat trays and other things work... But...word of caution on heat pads. Buy a thermostat regulator for your pads....I wound up "cooking" a few batches of seeds until I learned better. I also have some experience on Gibbleric acid if anyone is interested.

Central, TX(Zone 8b)

Good point, I left that out - my seedling heat mats are connected to a thermostat with a probe inserted in the tray to keep temps within desirable range. I use a high quality seed starting or screened potting mix.

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