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How to Germinate Bell Pepper Seeds

By Meg Butler ; Updated September 21, 2017
Bell pepper seeds germinate only under the right conditions.
bell pepper image by Chef from Fotolia.com

Pepper seeds can be difficult to germinate. These small, particular seeds need very specific temperature and light conditions to sprout successfully. Those conditions can be hard to predict or replicate outdoors, so it's best to start bell pepper seeds indoors, under controlled conditions. With careful attention, your bell pepper seeds may germinate in eight to 10 weeks. You can increase your chances of success by planting many more bell pepper seeds than you think you will need.

Place the bell pepper seeds in a bowl of room-temperature water. Allow them to soak for three hours.

Fill a multicell planting tray with quality seed-starting potting soil.

Place the tray under a heat lamp. Leave the tray under the lamp until a thermometer placed an inch below the soil surface reads 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature at which bell pepper seeds have the highest germination rates.

Plant the seeds. Bell pepper seeds should be planted shallowly--at a depth that is roughly equal to twice their diameter.

Water the planting tray so that the soil is moist. Continue to keep the soil moist (but not soaking) while the bell pepper seeds are growing.

Create light and heat conditions mimicking day and night for your bell pepper seeds. The planting tray should be kept under the heating lamp for 16 hours daily. Periodically measure the soil temperature to make sure it stays between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit during "daylight" hours. After 16 hours, turn the heating lamp off for eight hours. Be sure that the planting tray is kept indoors where the soil temperature will remain above 60 degrees. Repeat this cycle until the seed germinates. Be patient, germination times vary widely.


Things You Will Need

  • Bowl
  • Multicell planting tray
  • Seed-starting potting soil
  • Heat lamp


  • Plant bell pepper seeds indoors roughly eight weeks before the last predicted frost date.

About the Author


Based in Houston, Texas, Meg Butler is a professional farmer, house flipper and landscaper. When not busy learning about homes and appliances she's sharing that knowledge. Butler began blogging, editing and writing in 2000. Her work has appered in the "Houston Press" and several other publications. She has an A.A. in journalism and a B.A. in history from New York University.