Picture of How to Grow Peppers! Propagating Peppers!
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This is a Step-by-Step Instructable on how to grow bell or chili peppers from your favorite store bought varieties! And regardless of colour, flavor, or size, all peppers are grown pretty much the same way making this is a very fun, cheap, and easy to do project that I'm sure anyone of any age would enjoy doing!

So read on and learn how to grow some of these for yourself!

PS, i know the intro image is awful, no need to remind me xD
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
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(I used for this instructable but they're not necessary)

+Peppers or Pepper Seeds
- Any variaty of pepper will work
- If getting seeds, i wouldn't recommend getting hybrids, they are very simple to grow and are very resilient and strong, but seeds harvested from these peppers will likely be inferior to the origional plant. They will lack the "vigor" they had before.

All of these are optional.

+ A seed germination set-up
+ Soil (Sphagnum Moss, Cheap Soil, Quality Soil --mixed)
+ Plastic Baggies
+ Brown Paper Bag
+ and some Pots!

Step 2: Get Some of your Favorite Peppers

Picture of Get Some of your Favorite Peppers
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I went grocery shopping a couple days ago so i already had some bell peppers on hand, but if you dont have any at the moment, you should go get some.

Keep in mind how many plants you would like to grow, if you only would like to experiment with one or two plants, you should be able to get enough seeds from one pepper, but usually there will be way more than sufficient. But if you are interested in growing many plants, consider how many seeds are in the peppers as you buy them, because some may have TONS of seeds while some may have little. (or none!)

I prefer peppers of the sweet varieties, like green, red, yellow, or orange bells, but you can do this with any hot variety. But use caution when dealing the flesh and seeds of the hot varieties! You will need to handle them with disposable latex gloves. But then again, if your a risk taker who feels careful enough to handle them without any form of protection, you better like the feeling of burning eye balls and skin!

Step 3: Harvesting the Seeds

Picture of Harvesting the Seeds
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First, you need to get a knife and chop of the top of the pepper and remove the core, which contains the seeds. Heres an instuctable on Seeding Peppers.

I was dealing with 3 different variaties of peppers so if you are too, then next, you need to prepare some containers for putting the seeds into, i used some cups. 2 green bells I seeded filled a glass about a third of the way up with seeds! So odds are you are going to end up with a lot of seeds, probably more than you need, so when you plant, you can afford to plant extras in case you have some dud seeds.

Heres a test for checking if you have dud seeds, but in my experience it hasn't seemed to be accurate. But if it works for you, then thats great, but if it doesnt work.. then dont be let down and continue on.

Heres how the test goes..

- First, take out a glass/cup and fill it with your seeds.
- Then slowly add water to the cup, submerging all the seeds
( I did it vice versa in the pictures but you should do it as above for best results )

The test says that the good seeds will sink to the bottom of the glass, while the dud seeds will remain floating at the top.

Finally, you can either strain or pick out the good seeds.

But I question this test's accuracy because I've had many batches of seeds without a single sinker which had seeds that germinated. So you can always try this out for yourself if you want, and if it works for you, great! But if it doesn't, don't doubt your seeds, and continue as normal. The only reason i brought it up is that many gardeners and books say that floating pepper seeds wont germinate.

Another note, some varieties may have tons of seeds while some may have very little. In my pictures you can compare the amount i got from the red peppers verses the green ones. The red bell pepper I collected seeds from didn't have near as many as the green pepper.

Step 4: Preparing the Seeds for Planting or Storage

Picture of Preparing the Seeds for Planting or Storage
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To prepare your seeds for storage, they need to be dehydrated because they are going to be very moist, coming straight from the pepper, which isn't good for storing them, they could mold or pregerminate. So what i did, was set all my seeds out in the sun for about 1 hour. Since its Summer, and since its hot and dry here in California, this processes happened pretty quickly. But depending on your region and season, this may take forever, so do your best at getting your seeds DRY.

Another thing to note is that seeds are damaged once their temperature exceeds about 95 degrees, so setting them out in the sun for too long could increase their temperature past that level. So, some alternatives are: setting them outside in the shade, or setting them inside your house under a ceiling fan.

You may notice them shrink a bit too. You want the seeds to be so dry that they will crack when bent, if they bend they are too wet.

One last note, if your going to set up a drying system like the one i did on the plastic tray thing, be sure to use a rock or something heavy to keeping the wind from blowing over! I had a accident with the red bell seeds so now i have even fewer than before xD

Step 5: Storing the Seeds

Picture of Storing the Seeds
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If you are planning on storing your seeds until the planting season, this is what you are going to need to do.

You will need to keep your seeds DARK, DRY and COOL.

So I suggest getting out some plastic bags. I poked lots of holes into the baggies, with ball point pen or exacto knife for ventilation and "insurance" just in case condensation builds up (which could germinate the seeds). Then put the seeds into the bag. After you have your seeds in their little baggies, i suggest putting each of your plastic bags in a brown paper bag to be placed somewhere dry dark and cool, like under your bed, or in between the cracks of a dresser or something like that (just don't forget about them there).

As suggested by underwhelmed, instead of poking holes into the bags, you could add rice to the bags to absorb condensation. Which would work perfectly, some alternatives to rice are powdered milk, or silica gel (just dont add too much silica because it could over-dehydrate the seeds).

Or if your not putting them into a paper bag, you could put them in between the pages of a book.

If this is successful, your seeds should go into a dormant phase and not wake up until the opposite conditions are given to it! Also, the seeds will store well for a long time, most stay for about 2 years.

Step 6: Preparing Soil

Picture of Preparing Soil
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Now that you are ready to plant your seeds, its time to prepare soil!

Peppers like to stay nice and warm during their germination period so it is important that you use a fairly light soil that will hold heat and moisture. If you already dont have your own special soil mix, or soil brand you swear by, you are free to try my mix, here is what is use for all my seedlings.


1 Part Sphagnum Moss

2 Parts of any quality garden soil (This tree and shrub brand has very fine pieces of bark and dirt and is loose making it work well!)

1 Part of any cheap garden soil (The Earthgro brand in the picture was pretty coarse, having large(r) pieces of bark and some pebbles and is for making "nooks-and-crannies" for the root system of your seeds!)
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Scoop those into a container and mix in some water because it is VERY dry.

Step 7: Planting the Seeds!

Picture of Planting the Seeds!
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Planting your pepper seeds,

Time to crack out your seed germination tray! If you don't already have one, buying one is easy, you can get them at any decent hardware and garden store. This one cost me 7$ from Home Depot, with peat pots included. But you can use any type of seed starting kit out there, i know there are tons of different ones.

So, fill as many sections or peat pots as you want plants 75% of the way with your soil mix. Next, drop in 2-4 seeds in each slot. Cover about a quarter of an inch with dirt. and water to set the seeds into their new home. You should notice sprouts in 6-8 days.

Another thing is to be sure not to flood your seeds, you want to keep them moist, not soggy.

And Like i mentioned before, Pepper plants need warmth during their germination period, so if you live in an area which freezes in winter, you need to start your pepper plants indoors during winter, if you want an early harvest, otherwise wait until spring. But, if you live in a warm area like i do, starting peppers outdoors in a similar germination thingy should work fine pretty much any time of the year.

If you want healthy pepper plants, the ideal temperature for germinating peppers is 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit (27-29 C)

Step 8: Growing....

Picture of Growing....
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Once your plants have grown their third set of true leaves (as opposed to seed leaves, which are the first leaves which come directly from the seed), you know its time to transfer them to a permanent home.

The pepper plants prefer to be planted when soil temperatures have reached 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. If your soil has not yet reached that temperature, you need to set black plastic much or something similar to warm it.

Space plants a foot away from each other, and water moderately until fruit sets, and a little less once they have.

Also these pepper plants prefer FULL sunlight, so give them as much as possible.

If you are fortunate enough to have quality dirt in your back yard you can plant your seedlings directly into your garden. Other wise you can transfer seedlings into a pot like i did. The dirt in my area is horrible, as you can see in the picture... Peppers do well in raised beds, so if you have any type of raised bed or square foot garden, plan on putting one of these in there!

Another thing, the peppers in my picture need to be transferred into a much larger pot too, so once your peppers are about this size its time to move them into new big pots.

One last growing note, they like high amounts of nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and phosphates (P), so they welcome fertilizers.

Step 9: Harvesting Your Peppers!

Picture of Harvesting Your Peppers!
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After about 60-90 days, your plant should have mature bells which are ready for eating! You can harvest colored varieties while they are still green and they will ripen later on.

You can also harvest the seeds from your bell peppers and start all over again, or you can just buy your peppers from the supermarket... But either way, this was still a fun project!

Step 10: The End

Picture of The End
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I Hope you enjoyed this instructable, it was my first so i would more than love comments and feed back. And another note, if you do this project and have really sucky bell peppers, it is probably because you harvested seeds from a hybridized pepper plant, so your plants may be inferior to the original plant. No worries though, its all for fun. xD

One last thing, if you plan on starting bell peppers now, you are going to need to move them indoors for winter because they will die if the weather frosts.

If successful, please send pics!



angel birch2 years ago
Thank you for a brilliant post, I live in a really cold area at this time of the year but will be starting some peppers inside after watching your project.
happy gardening and post again
angel x
naveedasif4 years ago
Its too good to see this Instructable. i am a plants and gardening lover and i love to learn this. i will try this as soon as possible. God Bless you.
rosewood5135 years ago
I've been gardening for about 40 years, you really did a great job!!
I usually buy organic veggies when I try to extract seeds for drying.
Not a guarantee but I usually get the good ones.
Nice peppers,
Mine are not always as nice, peppers are a small challenge.  8)
Omaha6 years ago
Thanks for the great instructable! I have a couple questions and concerns though before I try it. First, you mentioned not using hybrids, which always makes sense because the plant reverts to its base type (usually as you mentioned, not good). But, when you get the seeds from fruit at the store, then how do you know whether they are hybrids or not? I have propagated heirloom tomatoes in a similar manner, and one of the primary issue with this approach of growing multiple varieties from seeds is cross pollination. For tomatoes you need to make sure that other varieties, including hybrids are separated by at least 50 yards to make sure that you end up with what you expected. My concern about peppers is related mostly to the crossing of hot and sweet pepper varieties, Since you have used different color varieties, have you seen strange color results? Do you manually pollinate the plants or do you count on bees doing the job? The whole pollination issue was not discussed in your instructable. Is this an oversight or for peppers is pollination not an issue? As I said your instructable is great. I intend to try it, but I want to make sure that I do it right so that it works correctly the first time. Thanks!!!!
Peale Omaha5 years ago
Peppers are one of the few plants that are "self pollenating."  You can still crossbreed them if you mix pollen from two different plants, but you can get your plants to produce fruit if you gently touch the flowers with your finger.
thenear1send (author)  Omaha6 years ago
Your first question... Knowing whether the peppers are hybrids or not from groceries and stuff... I don't know really, BUT if you purchase some peppers, save the stickers on them with company name, and do some research about the company, or even, get the companies phone number and ask them personally whether they are hybrids or not. Because of the expense of growing plants to get hybrid seeds-- to grow other hybridized plants-- i couldn't imagine how they could afford to mass produce hybridized produce. And your second group of questions, Yes i know i didn't write about cross pollination, primary reason being, i am not an expert on pollination. Also, i have never seed saved from peppers i have grown, i usually have tons of pepper seeds stored from harvesting otherwise. But, if you were to get serious into growing peppers, hand pollination would be a good idea, ive never gotten the technique down so i usually don't bother much with it. And if you are growing hot peppers and bell / sweet peppers, there is nothing to worry about if they do cross pollinate ONLY IF you do not seed save and grow from those. But another thing to not worry about when growing hots and sweets, is that many, but NOT ALL, hot peppers are of a different species than the bells and sweets, (i don't know their Latin names). And if your paranoid about them crossing, building physical barriers between the two species is a good option, and by physical barriers, i mean nets to keep bees from pollinating the two species simultaneously. And another note, i'm not sure whether you know this already or not, but, cross pollination does NOT affect the FRUIT of the current plant growing the fruit. Cross pollination WILL affect the fruit if the seeds were seed SAVED and planted again. Those fruits would be of the mixed-ness. Hope that helped! Next spring im planning on growing lots of varieties of peppers and will do some experiments then, but as of now, i dont know a lot about the whole pollination deal. Well, i hope you start planing 'em soon -thenear1send
JStrobel6 years ago
Thanks! I enjoyed and appreciated all the tips. You did a great job. Your bells came out beautiful. Do you know why my bells are small? Some are the size of an orange and some are the size of a kiwi and are turning red, which are my fav.
thenear1send (author)  JStrobel6 years ago
Im glad you liked my instructable! Yeah, peppers are really odd plants, I noticed the same thing you mentioned, because ive seen peppers fit right around that same spectrum you described. To me, they're just fine either way, and im not sure of anyways to maximize your peppers size, but its not like your doing anything wrong. Well, again, glad you liked the instructable
Excellent presentation.Even people with no experience and love of gardening will be encouraged to grow their own sweet pepper!
I loved your Instructable. I like it a whole lot, because it is very much to the point without a lot of unneccesary information that is found in many of these posts. I just have a couple of suggestions. The only thing you really didn't address is soil acidity. With peppers especially, you really want a pH of about 6.5. You can adjust this up or down, but keep in mind, the more acidic your soil, the sharper the taste of the pepper. Also, for colored varieties such as the red, yellow or orange - you may harvest when they are green and set them aside to become ripe, but if you have patience and wait for them to fully color before you harvest, you will end up with a much sweeter pepper. Just a couple of suggestions.
ojosjenn6 years ago
I found your instructable very helpful...I just have a few questions...my son is doing a project for his school's science fair and we decided to use the topic "how do different nutrients affect seed germination?" So I used seeds from a green bell pepper, dried them out for a few days and we planted a few in 4 plasic cups with potting soil. I have them indoors...I am just nervous that this will not work properly...he has to hand the project results in by November 20th and I just want to make sure that is enough time for a seedling to emerge and be able to measure the differences in growth...what do you think? How long before we see anything emerging from the cups? P.S. We live in New Jersey where it is about 65 degrees out now so I am doing this all indoors.. Ahhh the things we do for our children :) Help!!
iMac ojosjenn6 years ago
In my experience, seeds have germinated in anywhere from 6-14 days. To get them going in 6 days requires near perfect conditions-- warm (pro seed growers use heating mats or the [expensive] heated seed germination trays you can get at the store) and they need a good deal of light, a bright window will be sufficient, but if not able to be supplied with enough light, they will grow tall and skinny and tip over eventually (had that happen TONS of times when plantings stuff in shadey areas) and to supplement not having enough light, or not ~12 hrs of light when indoors, just pop them under a lamp or something, i definitely wouldn't go out of the way to set up a professional like system, but extra light helps.. And if they take much longer to germinate like 14 days, ive had that happen is where ive scattered a couple bells worth of seeds around somewhere and barely watered it. then a couple weeks later, youve got a forest..

Well in your time frame, Nov 20th might be pushing it if it comes to extremes, which id doubt would happen, but otherwise, you should get sprouts relatively soon. Id expect them in probably 10 days. Enough time to do various tests on your peppers.

Heres link to a cool site which did huge tests with different chemicals, and mediums with various different stuff while growing things.

iMac iMac6 years ago
PS. iMac is my brothers account. But thenear1send, wrote this reply, id didnt check to see if i was logged in xD Hope all goes well with your project!