starting peppers indoors

autodidactApril 26, 2010

I start some seedlings indoors using just my picture window, no lights. I've had very spotty luck with my peppers. Wonder if other people use heat mats or how you get better success starting peppers. Does anyone succeed without heat source? This year 50% germinated. Not 50% of each kind, but 50% of the kinds, so I've only got two instead of 4 kinds of peppers.

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david52 Zone 6

I use heating mats and a dome, and thats about what I get - 50% germination. Once they've sprouted, then its aphids or fungus gnats.

This year, some issue with nutrients as they just won't grow very quickly up top, but the roots are doing well. I'm soaking some compost now for tea.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:07PM
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bekajoi

I had great success using Baker Creek seed. They popped up. Every single one of them. Just used a greenhouse container for peat pellets and put them in a window. I have tons if you're coming to the swap!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 2:13PM
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Dan Staley

You must have heat for peppers - nice during the day and not dropping down to your low 60s at night. I use a box with grow lights and cover all with white towels. and the heat from the lights is more than adequate. Peppers like it warm to germinate and hot to grow and set fruit.

Dan

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 5:28PM
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greenbean08_gw(PNW)

I used a heating pad (DH fried the "high" setting on it so now I can have it for the plants) on medium heat- it kept the box about 75 degrees. I loosely covered the box with plastic when sprouting the peppers to keep in the heat & humidity. From Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

I got much better germination with last year's seed and the heating pad than I did last year with the same seed and less heat. I started them in the living room and moved them to the basement under the lights a couple days after they sprouted.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 6:51PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I only started two pots of peppers this year (one variety), but this is the first year I used bottom heat, and it was miraculous! The peppers were up on the sixth dayÂtomatoes on the third day. I just used a cheap ($10 on sale at WalgreenÂs) heating pad set on medium. I used a plastic "seed starting" (plug) tray with the plastic dome which helps keep the heat and moisture in till things come up.

I also put 3 or 4 seeds in each pot, so if a couple donÂt germinate, IÂve still got something! If more than one germinate (I got two in each pot), I just grow them as if they were one plant, but If you get more than one and want a single plant, just wait till they get a set or two of true leaves and then snip off all but the strongest looking one.

And I strongly recommend keeping track of which seed company each variety was from, and if youÂre having trouble germinating seed from a particular company, switch companiesÂand let us know which seed/company youÂre having trouble with! Two years ago I had trouble with germination of my Totally Tomatoes seed, and, for now at least, IÂm buying elsewhere. There are lots of places to get tomato seed!

If it were me, IÂd try again with the varieties you didnÂt get. Put them on a heat pad, or in the warmest place you can find (they donÂt need light till theyÂre up) and theyÂll get going fast. May be a little bit behind the others at first, but itÂs still not THAT late. Put extra seeds in the pots, and when the seed leaves are full size, water them with a weak soluble fertilizer solution. Get them out in the sun and breezes during the day as soon as you can.

ItÂs not too late yet! DonÂt give up!

Skybird

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:55PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

One thing that I've noticed that has helped me with germinating peppers indoors is the seeds should be barely covered.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 8:32PM
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digit(ID/WA)

I germinate peppers and everything that is started in February and March - in containers, on top of my fridge. Not IN the fridge, of course.

There is a cabinet above the fridge and that may help but a thermometer set up there shows 70°F even when the house drops to 60°-62° at night. I've got to pay attention to emergence so as to get things into a south window but this is a fairly low-tech technique for me.

I can't say that it is 100% successful for the peppers. Of all the seeds, they are probably the most variable for emergence. Still, I've got something like 9 flats of peppers right now and a half dozen varieties in the mix. None are outrageously wonderful but, they'll do.

Steve

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 1:00AM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

It seems like my traded seeds germinated way better then the purchased ones - what's up with that??

A friend sent me this: (I haven't yet tried it but for sure will next year as I had horrible germination this year - with heat and humidity and all. Plus, once a seed did sprout, many had the seeds stuck on the leaves and many sprouts failed to thrive.)

The Bleach Method:
First, boil a pot of water for at least 10 minutes to sterilize the water, then cool it and keep it covered to keep it as sterile as possible. Place your seeds in cheesecloth bags, cut up in small squares and tied with string). Submerge the bag in a solution of 1 cup sterile water (that has been cooled to room temperature) mixed with 1/4 cup liquid chlorine bleach. Leave the seeds in this
solution for 10 minutes, swirling the bag around frequently to make sure all the seeds are exposed to the bleach. Then, dunk the bag into a fresh cup of sterile water for one minute, swirling constantly. Repeat this rinsing procedure for 6 more rinses in sterile water. Bleach treated seeds
germinate so much faster plus the bacteria and fungal spores that may have contaminated the seeds are killed.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:07AM
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kareng_grow

My Ancho Poblano pepper seeds from Burpee have had no problems germinating in my south exposure entryway picture window. The trays are on short tables above tile floor but nothing is heated underneath. 15 of the 18 I planted have come up. There was one plant which held on to its seed case but I very gently pinched it off and it's fine.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:37PM
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polygonum_tinctorium

"It seems like my traded seeds germinated way better then the purchased ones - what's up with that?? "

Purchased seeds may be a lot older than you realize, and the storage conditions between when they were harvested and when you planted them might be less than ideal.

I've also read -- and thus this might not be true -- that seeds sold for home gardeners often consist of batches that aren't up to the standards needed by professional farmers.

I almost always have way better germination with seeds I personally collect (or trade for) than with seeds from even the most reputable seed companies.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 1:55PM
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autodidact

Hey, nice suggestion. Instead of buying a more expensive official seed heating thing, I'll just buy a cheap heating pad. Thanks for the suggestion. Do you turn it off at night?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 4:05PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

When I first put the seeds in itÂs on 24 hours a day, AD. As soon as things start to germinate, I put them outside in the sun whenever itÂs warm enough out, and then it goes back on the heating pad when I bring it back in. The one I bought came with a cloth cover, but I just use it without the coverÂdonÂt put plastic over it or anything. The one downside is that itÂs not quite long enough to be under the entire bottom of the flat, but it seems to have heated well enough to work!

And I planted in tiny "plugs," and didnÂt want to freak out the seeds too much, so I just had it set on medium! The plug tray stayed on the pad anytime it was inside until I needed it for the next flat. The second flat of things I started last week are in 2 1/4" pots, so I have it on high under them. ThereÂs no way a heating pad is going to get that much soil too hot for the seeds! And, as with the tomatoes and peppers, I was amazed again this time when I had marigolds and zinnias that were planted the evening of the 22th coming up the morning of the 27th! All kinds of perennials and annuals planted, and more coming up every day! Now if only the sun Âand heatÂwould come back so I could get them outside!

Keep an eye on the WalgreenÂs ads, or check to see what you can find if you happen to be in thereÂor anywhere like WalMart or Kmart, etc. You should be able to find a good deal!

Skybird

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:19PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

Autodidact,
I've had great success with the "damp in a baggie" method. Call it what you will, but I basically make a very weak chamomile tea (after having made a cup to drink, the used teabag will make a quart or more of my weak seed-tea) and let it cool. I then dampen a paper towel pretty thoroughly and then put the seeds in. I give them a nice place to stay, say on top of the fridge, and within a day or so, they're germinating pretty well. In this way, you have one plant per pot/pellet and can get a firm handle on actual germination rates. Handle those little sprouts carefully so as to not damage the taproot.

Also, if you're having trouble with the seedcoats not shedding before the leaves can open, dampen the stuck seedcoat with some saliva, let rest for 15 minutes, then gently pry off. Something in the saliva does the trick for me every time.

Also, to avoid damp-off, which isn't usually a problem with peppers, but why risk it, is to put some of that chamomile tea in a sprayer and spray the surface of the soil, as well as the seedlings as they come up.

Of course, I love my heat mat with the peat-pellets and dome setup, and sometimes that's all I use--well, that plus the chamomile tea stuff. I got 25% germination on three pepper varieties this year, but near 100% on almost everything else; eight pepper varieties and an armload of tomatos altogether. GOOD LORD, where am I going to put them all!?!?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:13PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I started 24 containers (1L water bottles with holes in the bottom for drainage, and cap removed) of peppers, 21 of them germinated. According to my calculations, that's an 87% germination rate. Not bad for no heatpad or grow lights, just a sunny window!

Unfortunately, the cat probably ate 50% of the sprouts and they had to be restarted, so I lost a whole month of grow time ... grrrrr. Next year, the guest room will become "The Pepper Room." Maybe I'll pick up a heating pad before next spring, just to see if it makes a difference too.

Autodidact, if you need more pepper seeds, I could probably help you out : )

Bonnie

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:59PM
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