How to sow pepper seeds

Gardeners' World: Monty Don shares tips for planting seeds

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Peppers grow in many different varieties, from the sweet bell pepper to the feisty chilli pepper. Peppers need warmth and sunshine to survive, which given the British climate can make peppers seem an unlikely vegetable to prosper. They can be used raw in salads or cooked for your fajitas, stir-fries and casseroles. But how exactly do you sow pepper seeds?

How to sow pepper seeds


  • Pepper seeds
  • Seed-starting mix
  • Multi-purpose, peat-free compost
  • Plastic pots, ideally three inches (7.5cm)
  • Pots, ideally around 12 inches (30cm)
  • Heated propagator or clear plastic bag/lid.


You can sow pepper seeds from mid-February until early April indoors in small pots or seed trays filled with seed compost.

Make sure not to sow seeds more than two months before your last frost date, as it will be too cold for them to thrive.

Begin by sowing pepper seeds into pots or plugs of seed-starting mix.

Space the seeds around an inch apart across the surface and then cover them with a little more mix.

Make sure to use gloves when planting hot varieties of pepper as the spice can transfer to your hands and take extra care not to rub your eyes after touching them. 

Place these pots into a heated propagator or on a warm windowsill, covering pots with a clear plastic bag or clear lid to keep in the warmth and moisture.

Transplant the seedlings into three to 3.5-inch pots when two true leaves have formed.

Make sure to transfer them while they are still fairly small and not yet too large to handle.

Always hold seedlings by their leaves, rather than their delicate stems.

If you want to give your seedlings more chance of success, grow lights can really help when the daylight hours are shorter.

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The next step is growing your peppers in a greenhouse or in an outdoor area which is warm, sheltered and very sunny.

Choose a large container, ideally around 12 inches or more, and get some multi-purpose, peat-free compost.

The seedlings can also be planted in growing bags or in open ground.

Move your young plants into their final container in late April if you are moving them into a heated greenhouse or mid-May if your greenhouse is unheated.

If you are growing your peppers outdoors, however, you should wait to move them until late May.

You should make sure to move them outside only when the risk of frost has gone.

To encourage branching of these plants, pinch out the growing tips when the plants are around eight inches tall.

This method should lead to more fruit.

If your plant begins to produce large peppers, you may need to stake your plants to protect their growth.

Make sure to water your pepper plants regularly, but take care not to allow pots to become waterlogged and feed them with a high potash liquid fertiliser once flowers begin to appear.

How long does it take to grow peppers from seed to harvest?

Peppers will take around four to five months to grow from seed to harvest, depending on the type you have.

Some will grow much quicker than others.

The more ideal the climate and conditions you provide, the faster your plants will begin producing peppers, so it is best to ensure they have plenty of warmth and sunshine for the best results.

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