Growing Peppers Indoors Year Round
Growing peppers indoors year round can be challenging but can also reap rewards for you all year long if you follow the steps below.
Planting Your Pepper Seeds
The main requirements for a seed to germinate are heat, moisture and oxygen. It is possible to germinate your seeds in everything from tissue paper to rock wool cubes, but the easiest growing medium is soil.
It’s important that you don’t plant the seeds too deep. They only have so much energy stored.
Keep seeds moist, not soaking wet. Gently mist once a day. I don’t keep a lid tight over seeds as I always end up with fungus that way. If soil dries out too fast, place a loose plastic wrap over the container. Make sure to leave some space for air circulation. It’s a good idea to have a fan in the room. It helps dry out the soil and prevent rot.
Germination is much faster with a heating mat. Some seeds germinated without bottom heat can take up to 3 weeks to germinate! The ideal temperature range for germination is 27-32 degrees °C (80-90 °F).
Transferring the Seedlings to Containers
Once my seeds have germinated and have grown in their first set of true leaves it is time to plant the seedlings in small containers the size of a plastic beer glass. Always use containers with holes so excess water can seep out.
I use any well drained soil mix. It usually includes perlite or vermiculite and organic matter like compost and peat moss.
Light Requirements for your Pepper Seedlings
As soon as the pepper seedlings emerge, they need light to grow into robust little plants. I have rarely seen a window sill with enough light to grow anything more than spindly wee things. A south facing window sill with a few hours of supplemental light at night will work well.
I have had success with compact fluorescent bulbs and high output T5 tubes. Dark green leaves at the tops of the plants and light green or yellowing leaves towards the bottom indicates the pepper plant needs more light.
Peppers Love Heat
Chili pepper plants are heat loving plants. To grow some of the nuclear hot peppers we have to start and finish indoors because our summers are not long enough. Most chili pepper plants can tolerate a range of temperatures but the ideal is 21-28°C.
Flowers begin to drop when temperatures reach 90°F (32°C). Less flowers means less chilies. Keep a fan close by and use a thermometer if growing indoors.
Peppers Love Humidity
Pepper plants are tropical so warm temperatures and moisture are important. But too much moisture can deprive the delicate little sprouts of the critical oxygen necessary for the root buds to grow.
Transplanting Your Peppers Outdoors
Once the threat of a last frost has passed, and the night time temperatures have stabilized at 10 °C (50°F) it’s safe to move your plant outside.
Prior to moving the plants in full sun, acclimate them slowly. Place the tender, young plants outside in the shade for a short period of time and gradually move the plants out into the sun and extend the length of exposure. This process takes about 7 days. Young plants can burn under the hot sun.
Choose a site that gets full sun and has well-drained soil. Raised beds are ideal for chili peppers because these plants need warm soil, as well as warm air, to thrive.
Work a moderate amount of compost or composted manure into the soil, then dust the planting surface with a fine layer of Epsom salts and work it into the soil. It will provide magnesium, which peppers need for good development. If you can spare a few dollars, go for worm castings. It is my favorite for bushy and vigorous chili pepper plants.
The whole process of growing chilies from seed to pod can take 3 months up to almost 6 months for the really hot kinds. So be patient and plan ahead of time.
We would love to hear about your success stories. Feel free to post a comment or picture below or send us a message with any questions you might have.