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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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....

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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!

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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

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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!



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    135 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago

    What if I'm ready to plant now, and do not need to store the seeds for later use, do I still need to DRY them out before planting, or can they go straight from the store bought pepper to the seed germination tray?


    5 years ago on Step 6

    You really should avoid using Peat Compost Soil. Peat-bogs are carbon sinks storing huge amount of carbon accumulated in thousands or tens of thousands of years! Using them as same as using fossil fuels. I would recommend a more sustainable alternative.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    Canada has more peat than anyone can use for a very long time, and they would very much love your business. :)

    Sustainability is an issue with UK-sourced peat, though, yes.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I think you misunderstood the point re carbon "Sinks". Using peat quickly releases carbon into the atmosphere that has taken thousands of years to accumulate as peat. This contributes to global warming and climate change by increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. It is not about the amount of peat that is available.


    3 years ago

    I have actually been able to grow peppers from seeds that I have gathered from peppers that I bought at the grocery store. And yes, as I have learned, pepper plants like Epsom salt.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    How can you know if a pepper - or any other store bought veggie - is a hybrid? Well, a hybrid seed cannot reproduce. I learned this the hard way last year by using seeds I harvested from some Gurney hybrid jalapenos and sweet mini peppers I planted the year before. I started dozens of them with none of them coming up. I repeated the process 3 time (I'm a slow learner!) and not one of them grew. A quick google search revealed the problem, hybrids cannot reproduce duh! I should have known this. Hybrid animals such as mules - a cross between a donkey and horse - cannot reproduce. However I LOVE my hybrid peppers so much because of the quality and size of the fruit that I will continue to order and pay Gurney's high prices and ridiculous shipping costs.

    1 reply

    I love growing peppers, this is a great tutorial! I've been working on a fun side project trying to list all the peppers in the world along with info on each of them and their SHU ratings. It's taking a long time but definitely fun. Let me know if I missed any or you have any cool pepper pics to add, many of the pics are from my garden :) Here it is

    10351578_1631651347060649_2066151497520358413_n (1).jpg

    5 years ago on Step 3

    Freshly harvested Pepper seeds should be put in a jar, screw the top on, and shaker up gude! When the seeds stop twirling around, the ones that sink are the good ones.

    If the seed is old and dried out, you should soak them for a long while and shake it then. Viability decreases with age. after a few years there's no chance of the seed germinating. Stored in an airtight container and kept in the freezer will keep the dried seed for longer. Allow the container to reach room temperature with the lid on to avoid condensation on dried materials.

    Dry the seed in front of a fan, stirring occasionally. If the seed comes from really hot peppers, you should add a little dish liquid to the water and dissolve the oil which contains the capsaicinoids, and you may keep your head while processing further. Dried seed should be separated from chaff by threshing.



    6 years ago on Introduction

    Just wondered if these hotboxes tricks would help. On of the other chili pepper plants I put outside unprotected was half eaten two days after I planted it, so I hope these stop the thieves (I suspect a cat) and maybe raise temperature to perfection.

    The round planter has a "Trinidad Scorpion Butch T" and in the long one I just threw in some packets of crushed chili from a fast food vendor as an experiment. I understand these packets are usually from Cayenne. Has anyone tried this before with any luck? If they're radiated when processed, I suspect they're all dead and will not sprout.

    I have several more 1 inch tall "Trinidad Scorpion Butch T" plants growing inside that I plan on growing in a "Topsy Turvy® Hot Pepper Planter" when they get a little bigger.


    6 years ago on Step 8

    I was speaking to a Master Gardener at the University of New Hampshire and he suggested also adding a tablespoon of epsom salts or Milk of Magnesia. He said the area of the world peppers originated in was high in Magnesium content. I have tried this for about 4 seasons and have gotten consistantly amazing results. Bigger plants, larger and more plentiful fruiting.


    6 years ago on Step 2

    Good job. I will give it a shot from seeds. I most often buy seedlings that have grown tall and strong with lots of buds but the peppers have turned out small and bitter.

    angel birch

    6 years ago on Step 10

    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


    10 years ago on Step 10

    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!!!!

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 10

    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

    I believe that almost all industrially farmed food is hybrid. Farmers are in the business of growing food, not seeds. The seed companies are in the business of growing seeds. Most farmers will buy all their seeds, year after year, from the same few large seed companies. The extra yield, as well as the disease resistance of hybrids, greatly outweighs the extra seed cost.

    You might have more luck with this technique with fruits from a farmer's market. It would also be much easier to get in contact with the farmer to find out about varietal information.

    Have you gotten any fruit from your plants yet? How did they turn out? Did you get lucky?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The hot pepper gene is dominant over the sweet so some people who have limited space use spun covers and uncover their pepper plants of one type then recover and then uncover the other type. I purchased some "sweet" peppers that were slightly hot right from the first peppers. The guy buys his seed and planted sweet and hot in his garden with no other precautions. I am figuring that the seed was not tainted from a seed company. I asked a few other gardeners also who told me that if your a seed collector you need to grow one type or have them covered.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 10

    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.