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How to Start Pepper Plants Indoors

By Julie Richards ; Updated September 21, 2017

Starting pepper plants indoors gives you a jump start on the growing season. Growing peppers from seeds also lets you grow varieties of peppers not commonly available from local nurseries. Pepper plants are not difficult to grow in the right environment. Start pepper plants indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last known frost date for your area.

Moisten the potting soil with warm water. Do not saturate the soil but keep the level of moisture even throughout the soil. Fill the growing tray with the potting soil.

Plant the pepper seeds at a depth of ½ inch. Make certain the pepper seeds are completely covered. Cover the growing tray with the lid or clear plastic. Secure the plastic with cellophane tape if necessary.

Place the growing tray on the heating pad and place the entire set up in a warm area with bright light. Peppers prefer a temperature of 80 degrees to germinate. If there is not a natural source of light in the growing area, secure a grow light above the seed tray.

Watch for seed germination and remove the tray cover or plastic film when 80% of the seeds have germinated. Mist the seedlings with a spray bottle of water when the soil appears dry. Do not allow the seedlings to dry out or they will die. Adjust the grow light to keep the seedlings from growing too tall and spindly trying to reach the light.

Thin out the seedlings to keep the young plants from competing with each other for nutrients. Handle the new plants by the leaves and not the stem to keep from damaging the plant. Transplant the thinned plants to another container, if desired.

Harden off the pepper plants by taken them outside during periods of warm weather. Allow the plants to remain outside for no more than an hour for the first few days. Lengthen the duration after the initial exposure until the plants remain outside constantly. Transplant into the garden when nighttime temperatures remain above 60 degrees.


Things You Will Need

  • Fresh pepper seeds
  • Quality potting soil
  • Growing tray
  • Tray cover (optional)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Cellophane tape
  • Grow light (optional)
  • Heating mat

About the Author


Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for over 30 years, and published a variety of e-books and articles on gardening, small business and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.