If you think you’re ready to take on the challenge of growing your own chili peppers, then wait no more! Today we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about how to plant chili seeds and some things to look out for in the process. Keep in mind that growing your own chili peppers is not the most difficult task in the world, but it does require a good amount of TLC and most of all patience. Just like any other plant that you are trying to grow, peppers don’t sprout overnight. Just keep reminding yourself that the wait will be worth it when you finally get to experience the heat of your hard-earned peppers.
What You’ll Need and How to be Fully Prepared
During the process of growing your chili peppers, you’re going to need to get bigger and bigger pots or containers to put them in as the roots expand and the seedling grows. However, when you start from just a seed, you can get some seed trays or small pots and fill them with free-draining compost. Another method, which we always use at Sonoran Spice, is to use Rockwool cubes. These cubes are very inexpensive and can be found on sites like Amazon. They are commonly referred to as the growing medium, you simply place a seed in each of the tiny holes in the center of the cube. All you have to do is keep them consistently moist and ideal have the temperature above 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the seeds germinate you can grow them hydroponically from the cubes or plant the entire cube directly into soil after removing the plastic outer wrap. The cubes work well in soil and are biodegradable. They also help support the plant in the soil, preventing erosion from damaging the plant.
Most super hot peppers require a good amount of heat to germinate, so investing in a heating propagator is a good idea. However, if you want a more budget-friendly option, you could put the tray or small pot in a Ziploc bag until it germinates. This will keep the moisture and heat in and help the germination process. Some people use just a moist paper towel in a Ziplock bag but we do not recommend that method. If you are planting more than one type of pepper, remember to get something to label your pots with.
Time to Sow
Alright, now that you’re all good and prepared, it’s time to plant some seeds. When you’re first starting, you can keep the seeds in a windowsill or someplace that gets a good amount of sun. Also, when you are choosing a soil to start with, make sure it is a good draining soil so that you don’t overwater your seeds and cause them to rot. The seed should be planted about ¼ inch into the soil to ensure the soil stays nice and warm throughout the germination period. Don’t be too discouraged when your seed doesn’t sprout after a week. All peppers vary and the germination process can take up to a month! Patience is key.
Keeping the Right Environment
Now, this may sound repetitive, but make sure you’re keeping those puppies warm! The three key ingredients to this pepper-growing recipe are sun, heat, and moisture. If you are having trouble keeping the seeds warm, a heating pad underneath the trays/pots could be helpful. When it comes to watering your seeds, you want the soil or grow medium to stay moist. Watering every other day or even every three days would be a good schedule.
Transferring Your Seedlings
After you see some growth and think it’s time to transfer your sprouts into a bigger pot, just be sure that every new pot you put them into is taller and wider than the last, to help continue their growth. When transferring the plants, try to carefully grab them by a leaf, rather than the stem. This can often damage the plant and prevent any more growth. Once you think they are ready for the real world, be sure to gradually get them used to the outdoors. This is called hardening the plant. Start by putting the pot outside for the day and bring it in during the night. Continue this routine for about a week to ten days so it can get accustomed to the weather/temperature difference. When the time is right, you can add them to your garden and wait for some nice hot peppers!
All Grown Up
Once you see some peppers starting to grow, you know you’ve done it. But the wait is not over quite yet! Most peppers take from 60-90 days to fully mature, but some can take up to 150 days. It all depends on their coloring and size. Depending on the type of pepper you are growing, they will turn red, yellow, orange, brown, or even purple when they are fully ripe. The longer you let them sit on the plant, the better the flavor/heat they will have, but the picking is up to you. You can use scissors or pruning shears to harvest the peppers, but be sure to make a clean slice to cause as little damage to the plant as possible. And voila, you finally have some fresh, hot peppers to eat!
Storing Your Peppers
The possibilities are endless when you harvest your peppers. Storage should be pretty easy, depending on what you want to do with them. Peppers can be eaten fresh, dried, crushed into flakes or powder, pickled, pureed into salsa or jam, and more. For your fresh peppers, it is recommended to store them in your refrigerator or freeze them to keep their freshness. If you choose to dry them, they can be stored and kept almost indefinitely. If you choose to pickle or store them in oil, they can last for a few months. The opportunities are endless, go out and share some with friends and family and have fun growing your peppers!