How to Start Pepper Seeds


Peppers are a warm-season vegetable that grow well in most vegetable gardens. They are also well-suited to container growing in patio gardens. Planting peppers from seed, whether they are hot or sweet varieties, is less expensive than purchasing seedlings at a nursery. You also have a greater variety of pepper types to choose from if you start peppers from seed. Peppers require warmth to germinate, so the use of a seedling germination mat is helpful when starting seeds indoors.

Step 1

Fill 3-inch seed pots with a sterile potting mix formulated for seed-starting. Water the mix in each pot just enough to moisten it.

Step 2

Sow one to two pepper seeds per pot, planting them to a ¼-inch depth in the soil. Mist the surface of the soil with water to moisten them place the pot inside a plastic bag to help retain the moisture during germination.

Step 3

Place the pots in a warm room, setting them on top of seed germination mat. Set the temperature on the mat to 80 degrees F.

Step 4

Remove the plastic bags once sprouts appear, approximately seven to 14 days after sowing. Lower the temperature on the mat to between 65 to 75 F, then place the mat and seedlings under a grow light. Adjust the lights so they sit 2 to 3 inches above the top of the plants and leave the lights on for 14 to 16 hours a day.

Step 5

Water the soil as needed to keep it moist but not soaking wet. Adjust the height of the grow lights as the peppers continue to grow to maintain the 3-inch distance between the light and the top of the plants.

Step 6

Fertilize peppers weekly once they produce their first set of leaves. Mix half the recommended application of a balanced, soluble fertilizer with 1 gallon of water. Water the peppers with this solution once a week until you plant them outside.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always provide the proper amount of light, otherwise the pepper seedlings are prone to damping-off fungus. Damping-off is caused by a combination of non-sterile potting mix, too much water and not enough light.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed pots
  • Potting mix
  • Plastic bag
  • Germination mat
  • Grow lights
  • Fertilizer


  • Utah State University: Peppers In The Garden
Keywords: starting pepper seeds, growing peppers, vegetable gardening

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.