a seed tray full of young pepper seedlings

When to plant peppers (seeds and seedlings)

If you’re a hot pepper lover, growing peppers at home makes trying varieties not sold in stores easy. 

However, knowing when to plant them is critical to a successful harvest. 

Read on to learn when to plant peppers, whether directly sowing, seeding indoors, or buying your seedlings from a local nursery.

Is your climate suitable for growing peppers?

First things first: if you’re interested in growing peppers, it’s essential to determine whether your climate suits their cultivation. There are a few factors to consider:


Peppers generally thrive in warm temperatures, typically between 70°F – 80°F during the day and 60°F – 70°F at night. 

It’s also important to note that some peppers, such as capsicum pubescens, prefer cooler temperatures ranging from 45°F to 60°F and cannot tolerate extreme heat. Therefore, these peppers may be more suitable for your growing conditions if you live in a cooler climate. However, for the purposes of this article, our general advice will focus on warmer-weather peppers unless otherwise specified.


Peppers usually require around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. If you worry that your growing space is too shady, try peppers with smaller fruits (like biquinho) which are more likely to mature if sunlight conditions aren’t optimal.


Most capsicum annuum peppers prefer moderate levels of 50% to 60%, while some capsicum chinense peppers require higher humidity levels.

Time to maturity:

The time it takes for peppers to mature varies, usually ranging from 70 to 120 days from transplant. If you live in an area with short, warm seasons, you may want to choose a pepper variety that matures more quickly.

Direct sowing vs. transplanting

There are two methods of planting peppers: direct sowing and transplanting. Direct sowing involves planting seed directly into the soil in the location where the plant will grow to full maturity. In contrast, transplanting involves planting a seedling into the ground. 

Direct-sown peppers often have better taproots since they’re not disturbed after they start growing, so it may be preferable for people in climates with long warm seasons. 

Transplanting is ideal for gardeners who want to extend their growing season or start their plants earlier. It also allows for greater control over the plant’s growing conditions and, in some cases, leads to higher yields. If you choose to transplant pepper seedlings, you will either need to start the seeds ahead of time indoors or purchase already-started plants. 

Benefits of starting pepper seeds vs. buying seedlings

There are benefits to starting your peppers from seed instead of buying seedlings. When you buy seedlings, you’re limited to what your local hardware stores and nurseries carry. Starting from seed gives you access to a broader variety of pepper types. 

You also have greater control over the plant’s health. Plus, starting from seed is usually more cost-effective if you already have the necessary equipment, such as a heat mat, lights, and seed trays. And let’s not forget that starting from seed can be a fun and rewarding experience!

Overall, whether you plan on seeding indoors or directly sowing, understanding your climate and the ideal temperature for planting is key.

When to direct sow pepper seeds

If you live in an area with long, warm summers, you can direct sow your pepper seeds once nighttime temperatures consistently reach at least 50°F, and ideally when soil temperatures are at least 60°F. Understanding the ideal temperature for planting pepper seeds is crucial.

When to start pepper seeds indoors

For those living in areas with freezing temperatures or those who want to get a jumpstart on your growing season, it’s best to start your pepper seeds indoors about 6-10 weeks prior to your last frost date (or 6-10 weeks prior to when you want to plant out). 

However, if you have the space and can provide the proper lighting and heat, you can start your peppers even earlier. Just be prepared to up-pot them a few times along the way. 

Remember that peppers can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks to germinate, with some superhot peppers taking up to 6 weeks, so you may want to start some peppers earlier than others.

When to transplant pepper seedlings

In terms of timing, wait until after your last frost date before transplanting your pepper seedlings. Also, wait until nighttime temperatures are consistently at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the soil is 60 degrees or warmer.

Before you transplant, you must harden off your pepper seedlings. Hardening off involves gradually exposing seedlings to outdoor conditions over the course of about a week. 

Pepper seedlings you buy at a nursery or store may or may not already be hardened off. It’s best to err on the side of caution if you’re not sure — there is no harm in hardening it off a plant for a second time.

Your pepper seedlings should also have at least two sets of true leaves before transplanting.

It’s important to keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable. If you’ve already planted your seedlings and temperatures threaten to drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, cover them with a frost blanket to protect them.

Planting peppers at the right time is crucial for a bountiful harvest. Whether you’re planting from seeds or seedlings, it’s essential to understand the ideal conditions for growth. You can increase your chances of a successful crop by considering factors such as climate, temperature, soil quality, and watering. Remember to always pay attention to the weather and adapt as necessary!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *