Native to Central and South America, pepper plants were introduced to Europe in the late 1400s by Christopher Columbus and other early explorers. Peppers spread to all other major parts of the world, including Asia and Africa, by the 17th Century. Interestingly enough, even though pepper plants are native to Central and South America, they were not introduced to North America until the colonists brought them back from Europe. Pepper plants are easy to grow and starting them in a greenhouse is ideal for most climates due to the long sprouting and early-growth period.
Start pepper plants in the greenhouse if you are starting them from seeds. Remember that the number of days to maturity on the seed packet refers to the time between transplanting the seedling and when it produces fruit. This does not include the germination time, which is an additional eight to 10 weeks.
Start your peppers in late winter to early spring, depending on the variety of peppers you are growing. A good rule of thumb is to plan on transplanting the pepper plants outdoors two to three weeks after the last expected frost, so you need to sow your pepper seeds in your greenhouse approximately eight to 10 weeks before this transplant date.
Sow your pepper plant seeds in peat pots in the greenhouse. Keep the seeds moist but not waterlogged until they germinate and begin to sprout, in about one week.
Maintain a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in your greenhouse to induce germination. Wait until the seedlings have developed their second set of leaves, or their "true" leaves, before transplanting them.
Transplant the pepper seedlings directly into the ground or into a planter pot kept in the greenhouse. Do not transplant your pepper plants outside unless nighttime temperatures average around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the soil is well-draining and mix in some compost or other organic matter into the soil. Also mix into the soil a 5-10-10 fertilizer prior to transplanting.
Most varieties of hot peppers take up to 150 days from the time of transplanting to mature and bear fruit.