Chile peppers are a hot weather plant, requiring at least 84 days to reach maturity. Suited to areas with long and hot summers, chiles can be grown in most parts of the country if they are started indoors and transplanted out later. If summers are cool, the peppers may not reach their optimum level of spiciness but they will still be a welcome addition to the garden. Harvesting and saving your own chile plant seeds each year saves money over purchasing fresh seeds or nursery seedlings and ensures you have the seeds available for early planting.
Test germination first. Dampen a paper towel. Fold it in half and place five to ten chile seeds between the layers. Slide it into a plastic bag and set in a warm area for seven to 10 days. Count the amount of seeds that germinated. If more than half to all of them germinated, plant chile at the advised rate. If less germinated, plant double the amount of seeds to ensure enough seedlings. If none germinated, purchase seeds this year as the ones saved are likely not viable.
Fill seed starting pots with a sterile potting mix. Water it until it is moistened throughout but not soggy.
Sow two to three seeds per pot---double if germination test was poor. Place seeds on the soil surface then cover with a ¼ inch layer of potting mix.
Mist the soil surface with water using a spray bottle. Place a plastic bag over each pot to preserve soil moisture during germination.
Set the pots in a warm 65 to 80 degree Fahrenheit room to germinate. Use a seedling heat mat under the pots if a room in the proper temperature range isn't available.
Remove the plastic wrap once seedlings emerge. Move them to a window in full sun or place under grow lights. Maintain the soil temperature at over 60 degrees and keep the soil moist at all times.
Thin the seedlings to the strongest one in each pot once the second set of leaves form. Snip off the other, weaker seedlings at soil level to remove.
Transplant seedlings outdoors once night time temperatures are consistently over 50 to 55 degrees. Make sure all danger have frost is past in your area before transplanting as well.