The Edible Garden

Starting Pepper Seeds Indoors

Learn the best way to start pepper seeds indoors in January.

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Q. What is the best way to start pepper seeds indoors in January? Our indoor temperature stays around 68.

A. You'll need a warmer location for the germination phase: the top of the refrigerator is a good spot. Once they sprout, you'll need to move them so they receive plenty of light.

  • Use a sterile, soilless seed-starting mix and sterile containers.
  • Moisten the soil, but don't get it soggy.
  • Place seeds less than 1/4 inch deep.
  • Cover the pots with plastic wrap and place in a warm (80-90 degrees F) location. Check daily to make sure the soil is still moist.
  • As soon as the seeds sprout, remove the plastic and place in a brighter location. Lighting from above — such as fluorescent lighting suspended about two inches above the seedlings — is great. Place on a window sill only if there's no cold draft; turn seedlings daily to avoid uneven growth. When they get their second set of leaves, transfer the seedlings to larger pots and start fertilizing with a liquid fertilizer mixed at half strength.

    Pepper seedlings don't like sitting in water so always be sure your pots or containers have good drainage and don't let water accumulate in the liners under the pots. After all danger of frost has passed, move the plants outside. Remember to offer them shade for the first week.

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