How To Grow Super Hot Peppers (Chillies) From Seed
Growing hot peppers indoors from seed is an immensely enjoyable experience. Particularly once you have an established plant that provides the spice of Satan’s stick hot peppers on demand.
There’s a few things you can do and that should be considered best practises when starting super hot peppers from seed. First we’ll start with soil.
What Is The Best Soil For Peppers?
Most peppers love a well draining, nutrient rich soil in combination with deep and sparse watering patterns. A tried and true method to get a good soil mix is to combine:
- 10% Vermiculite
- 10% Perlite
- 10% Manure (horse’s is good)
- 70% High quality seedling raising mix
Different chilli growers will have different opinions on what the best soil mix is for growing peppers and that’s the fun part about gardening – experimenting with what works and what doesn’t, and developing a mix that best suits you. This is a great starting point however and will see your peppers germinate with great success.
A little more about each of the components
Vermiculite is a hydrous mineral substance that is mainly used to improve soil quality by bettering moisture retention.
Perlite is a superheated volcanic glass. It’s kind of like a miniature piece of popcorn in that it has a very low density and is comprised of many tiny air compartments. It improves soil drainage and aeration in the soil.
Where To Germinate The Peppers?
If you’re wondering how to germinate pepper seeds fast then it’s a great idea to start them indoors. This should lead to better and faster germination rates as you have a more controlled and consistent temperature.
You’ve got a couple of different methods when starting out, I’m testing two of them now to see which results in the fastest germination of seeds.
The first method is using a heat mat with a mini greenhouse. This ensures temperatures are at a consistent 30 degrees Celsius which should accelerate germination due to the high and consistent temperature.
The second method is using the disposable cups, I have these sitting on a window sill so they are exposed to more temperature fluctuation and lower temperatures. I’ll keep documenting the process on a week by week basis and share my results between the two.
There is some debate however as to the effectiveness of using transparent containers when growing plants. There is some research that suggests exposing the roots to light can hamper the growing rates of plants.
A couple of notes:
- When planting the seeds wear gloves or use tweezers to handle the super hot peppers, otherwise that capsaicin is going to be on your fingers and could potentially spread to your eyes or somewhere even worse..
- Plant the seed no more than 5mm deep. This is important to ensure that the seedling doesn’t die before breaking through the surface of the soil
- Do not keep the soil too moist or you risk the seed rotting before it germinates
Where do I get my seeds from?
I usually order seeds from eBay which has plenty of options for the more common vegetables and chillies, however I have received some duds from time to time. If you are looking for high quality chilli seeds and are prepared to pay a little extra, I buy from The Hippy Seed Company in Australia.
7 Days Later
Three seedlings have poked their heads through, I’ve got the jalapeno, pequin and hot lemon showing. Still no signs of the super hots from either the cups or the mini greenhouse.
I’ve bought an LED grow light to sit on top of the greenhouse and will plug it into a weekly programmable timer.
11 Days Later
The first Carolina Reaper has started breaking through the surface with a second one following close behind. A second hot lemon has come through and a habanero has joined the party as well. The seedlings look like they are suffering a bit in the high humidity environment so I’ve decided to change the setup. I’ve removed the lid and installed a grow light now, it should provide a bit of warmth that will radiate off the aluminium foil sides. The first seedling from the cups have come through (hot lemon), the Carolina Reaper seeds in the moist paper towels in a ziplock bag don’t seem to be doing too much.
I’ve updated my system now that the seeds have started to come through. I grabbed a vegetable box, wrapped the inside with aluminium foil to reflect more of the LED grow light, and moved the reptile heat pad inside of this. See below.
35 Days Later
No more plants have broken through the surface. This has led me to believe that they must have been sowed too deep and didn’t survive their initial push through. In terms of the Bird’s Eye seeds of which none have come through, I did some research and found out that it may be because of the tough exterior shell of the seed. Apparently soaking them for a few hours before planting aids in germination.
If you’re looking for how to germinate pepper seeds fast, then the best option is the mini greenhouse with temperature control from the reptile heat mat.