PEPPER GROWING TIPS

Starting peppers from seed, pepper seed germination, and growing hot peppers.
The following are twenty four pages about starting pepper seeds, tests of different potting soils, planting, days to germinate, fertilizers, using bone meal, pepper plant sizes, pepper seed cleaning and the proper methods of pepper seed storage to maintain viability, acquired from 40 years of experience in the seed industry.

Redwood City Seed Company, Box 361, Redwood City, California 94064.
Craig and Sue Dremann (650) 325-7333.
See our free catalog and pepper seed web page.

Craig's pepper plant Rule of Thumb--"If your Ghost or Trinidad Scorpion pepper plants are not six feet tall by mid-August, you are not fertilizing them with enough bone meal and liquid fish!"


WEB SITE CONTENTS:
--Growing tips, the plastic pot method.
--Never use peat pots, peat pellets, etc.
--Tests to find the best pepper seed starting soil.
--Top ten things to do, when starting pepper seeds.
--Planting the seeds.
--Air circulation.
--Keeping the seeds warm to germinate.
--Germination times for each variety.
--Fertilizers, bone meal.
--Transplanting peppers.
--Spacing in the garden.
--Container plants.
--Time to produce fruit.
--Plants make flowers but no fruit.
--Growing peppers in Florida in the summer?
--Mature plant sizes for each pepper variety.
--How many fruit per plant.
--Pepper seed cleaning.
--Pepper seed storage.
--Seed counts.
--Seed harvesting and selection tips.
--Pepper seed testing.
--Drying peppers to preserve their heat levels.
--Remember--all peppers are perennials.




Copyright © 2003-2013 by Craig & Sue Dremann and cannot be reprinted or put on any web site, without written permission.
Anyone lifting any text or images without permission, agrees to pay on demand, liquidated damages of $100 per day, per sentence or image.

Printed out, this website is 24 pages long.


Growing tips, the four to eight inch diameter plastic pot method

REQUIREMENTS:
--Potting soil, Miracle Gro® Orchid Mix or Miracle Gro® Organic Choice
(we have tested various brands, see photos below)
--One plastic pot per variety, 4 to 8 inches in diameter.
--Soil thermometer or Taylor brand indoor-outdoor thermometer with wire sensor (not the wireless kind).
--Pepper seeds.
--Some way to keep the soil at the required
80-85°F
daytime soil temp.like an electric heating pad.
--Plastic labels or waterproof marker to label pots.
--Distilled water.
--Miracle-Gro® "Bloom Booster" or Peters Professional "Super Blossom"
--Once seedlings are up, a light source, either a greenhouse, window or grow-lights.

Make a "Seed starter solution" of either the Miracle-Gro® or Peters Professional, mixing one tablespoon in a gallon of distilled water.

Also, do not use bleach on your pepper seeds and never refrigerate your seeds while trying to get them to germinate!

Seeds can be dunked in hydrogen peroxide in a sieve or strainer for one minute and then rinsed in water at planting time. This hydrogen peroxide treatment can be important for seeds that have a lot of nooks and crannies, like the Manzanos. Hydrogen peroxide will take any mold spores of the seed surface, and will not damage the seed, like bleach sometimes can.

Start with the plastic pots
and fill them with potting soil and sprinkle with the starter-fertilizer solution to settle soil. Plant seeds, spacing 1/2" apart, and cover with no more than 1/8" of additional potting soil. Water again with the Seed starter solution, and use the solution instead of tap water, whenever the containers need to be re-watered. Do not use tap water or well-water on very young seedlings., because the chlorine or minerals may damage the seedlings.l.

Once seedlings are a few inches tall, transplant seedlings into their own individual 3" or 4" pots, and let plants grow to 6-8" tall.

Work about a tablespoon of bonemeal into the potting soil of each 3-4" pots before you transplant the seedlings into them.

And once transplanted into their own individual pot, start watering with an organic fertilizer, like Alaska brand liquid Fish fertilizer. Do not continue to use the Miracle-gro® or Peters Professional once the seedlings are up.

Plant seedlings out into the garden, when nights are consistently about 50



NEVER, NEVER, NEVER ever use peat pots, peat pellets, or potting soil that is mostly peat.

Everyone always asks "Why??" ---We don't know---Perhaps the peat is too acidic, or that there is something in peat that inhibits pepper seed germination.

All we know, is that whenever anyone has had problems with pepper seed germination, when the seeds are known to have good germination after testing them on top of moist cotton--part of the problem has always been peat pellets, or potting soil that was mostly peat.



TESTS TO FIND THE BEST PEPPER SEED STARTING SOIL

Photos testing various potting mixes below, sowing the same seeds in each three inch pot:

pepper sprouting
Sand and Supersoil potting mix

pepper sprouting
Miracle Gro® Seed Starter mix and Sphagnum Peat Moss

pepper sprouting
Miracle Gro® Cactus mix and Scott's Premium mix

pepper sprouting
Miracle Gro® Orchid mix and Miracle Gro® Organic Choice

Here are my ratings, of potting soil for pepper seed starting, based on the number of strong seedlings that resulted on June 7, 2009 when planting the same seeds were planted in each three-inch pot on April 19. Rated from zero to eight, with eight as the best.

0 = Sand
1 = Supersoil, Miracle Gro® Seed Starter and Miracle Gro® Sphagnum Peat Moss.
3 = Miracle Gro® Cactus, Palm and Citrus mix
7 = Scott's Premium potting soil
7+ = Miracle Gro® Orchid mix
8 = Miracle Gro® Organic Choice

The toxic effect of the pure sand on the pepper seeds was a surprise, so instead of using any sand in your pepper potting soil, use perlite instead.

For pepper seed germinating, the inhibiting effect of the various mixes, was usually in direct relationship with the percentage sphagnum peat moss in each mix.

1 = Miracle Gro® Seed Starter = 90-95% peat moss.
3 = M.G. Cactus, Palm & Citrus mix = 40-50% forest products, plus, peat moss, sand, and perlite.
7 = Scott's Premium potting soil = 45-55% forest products, plus, peat moss, sand, and perlite.
7+ = Miracle Gro® Orchid mix = 100% forest products.
8 = Miracle Gro® Organic Choice = 50-55% composted bark, plus, peat moss, and poultry litter.

Overall, I would recommend the Miracle Gro® Orchid mix, as the best for starting pepper seeds.


TOP TEN THINGS TO DO - STARTING PEPPER SEEDS:

1.) Never ever, ever, ever use peat pellets, peat pots, or potting soil that is mostly peat. If you have to use a seedling mix with peat, dilute it with 25-30% perlite.

2.) Always give
80-85°F
daytime soil temp., and keep at room temp. at night. Do not refrigerate while germinating! Always check to see that soil temperature you are getting 80-85°F with a soil thermometer.

3.) Always use a soil thermometer or Taylor brand indoor-outdoor thermometer with the outdoor sensor on a long wire, and put the outdoor sensor in the soil. The indoor-outdoor thermometer will measure down to 1/10th of a degree.
.
4.) Always use an organic fertilizer on older seedlings.

5.) Never plant seeds more than 1/4 inch deep.

6.) Always let the soil surface dry very slightly before re-watering.

7.) Always use the Seed starting solution on all hot peppers, especially useful for the slower-germinating kinds, like the Pequin, Tepin, and Bhut Jolokia.

8.) Never, ever use table salt and we do not recommend using bleach or Epson salts
(Magnesium sulfate). You can, however, use a Hydrogen peroxide rinse at planting time.

9.) Do not add organic materials that may have a lot of fungi spores
, to your seed starting soil, like cow or horse manures, bat guano, garden soil, worm castings, or compost. However, chicken manure, blood meal, fish fertilizer, bone meal and other more sterile materials can be used, and will not add fungi that can kill your seedlings.

10.) Don't give up!--some hot peppers take almost a month to germinate (see details below).A rule of thumb is, the hotter the pepper, the longer it takes to germinate sometimes.



PLANTING the seeds.

Plant pepper seeds
, spacing them 1/2" (one cm.) apart in each direction and no more than 1/4" (6 mm) deep.

Keep containers 80-85°F (30°C) during the day and 60-70°F (20°C) at night.
Make a hole in the clear plastic top for the thermometer to go through. For a few hours each day, take the cover off the container in the afternoon to let air in. This will help control "damping off" fungus, which is a disease which attacks the seedlings and makes them topple over.

To water without disturbing the seedlings, with the holes punched in the bottom of the container, you can water or rewater by letting the container sit in a bowl of water and soak up the water through the bottom holes. Make sure that the soil level is above the level of the water when the container is soaking up water.

Otherwise, watering should be done overhead with a gentle sprinkling can, and water thoroughly every time, but let the surface dry out a little bit between watering. That helps keep the damping off fungus spores from developing and eating your seedling for breakfast.

AIR CIRCULATION

Pepper seedlings need some air circulation, at least until they develop their second set of leaves, and a small fan can help circulate the air, to control any damping off fungus.

KEEP the SEEDS WARM to germinate
:
There are at least three inexpensive methods to provide the 80-85°F (25-30°C.) soil temperatures that pepper seeds love for germination---

1.) HEATING PAD method
from the pharmacy. Purchase one that can get wet and put it under the flats or pots that your pepper seeds have been sown in. We caution using commercial seedling heating mats, make sure and check the soil temperature, that they are warming the soil enough. Also, we do not recommend soil heating cables, because you have to put them into sand beds, and can't just put them directly underneath pots.

2.) LIGHT BULB in the cardboard box method. You need a cardboard box approximately 2 x3 x3 feet (0.6 x 1 x 1 meter), a ceramic light socket, lamp cord long enough to go from a wall socket and where you will have your germination box set up, an electrical plug, a 40 watt utility light. Place box on its side and bolt ceramic socket to the inside of the box about half-way up on either the left or right side. Keep light on during the day, but turn off at night to allow seedlings to return to room temperature. A 40 watt light will keep the inside of the box at 80-85°F (25-30°C.).

3.) THE HIGH SHELF in a heated room. The 80-85°F daytime soil temps for peppers only have to be maintained until the leaves break the soil surface, and then seedlings can be moved to a cooler place with abundant light. If you check high shelves near the ceiling, you might find one where the heat in the room keeps the temp. at the right level during the day. You just need to make sure and keep the seed pots adequately moist, and never allowed to dry out, which may be watering once or twice a day.

GERMINATION SPEED--Regular sweet peppers are very quick to germinate, usually 6-8 days.

HOT PEPPERS always take a lot longer, a minimum of 15 days, but up to 100 days!
--Habaneros always take a minimum of 18-25 days.
--Bhut Jolokia, take a minimum of 20-30 days.
--East Indian and Thai hot peppers always take 20-55 days.
--Bird peppers like Pequin and Tepin (the world's hottest) are always the longest: 21-100 days. Daytime soil temperature of 80-85°F and fertilizers will cut the total germination time down to 25-30 days.

See the next section of this web page, to get details on specific peppers.


GERMINATION TIMES for each variety. This chart lists how many days until you get 25% germination, and how many days to achieve 50% germination, then the total number of days that seed will take to finish germinating. Chart data is from our own tests.

First part of this chart is sorted by variety name, and second part, the peppers are grouped together based on the number of days it takes to achieve 50% germination, using 80-85°F daytime soil temperatures.

Variety
Days 25% Days 50% Days finish
Aconcagua 10 11 15
Aji Yellow 11 15 20
Anaheim 10 14 20
Ancho 11 11 20
Assam 8 15 20
Banana 7 10 15
Bangalore Torpedo 10 12 15
Bhut Jolokia, regular 17 25 30
Bhut Jolokia Craig's 12 15 21
Bishops Cap 10 12 15
California Mild 12 14 20
Cascabel 17 17 17
Caloro 12 14 21
Catarina 8 11 20
Cayenne Long Slim 6 8 11
Cherry Hot 8 11 29
Chimayo 7 9 11
Cobra 11 14 20
Costeno Rojo 14 20 28
De Arbol 17 18 18
Dulcetta 15 15 15
Elephants Trunk 11 11 11
Fresno 11 11 11
Guajillo 12 13 14 to 22
Hab. Paper Lantern 11 11 47
Habanero Mustard 11 11 15
Hab. White Bullet® 11 11 15
Hung. Yellow Wax 12 15 28
Jalapeno M 11 11 20
Jalapeno TAM 11 11 11
Jalapeno Early 10 10 10
Japones 11 13 24
Joe E. Parker 11 15 20
Kurnool 11 15 20
Manzano Orange 11 15 28
Manzano Red 12 12 14
Manzano Yellow 15 15 15
Marconi Red 10 12 30
Mex. Negro, Chilaca 11 11 20
NM 6-4L 11 15 15
NM Big Jim 11 15 20
NM Improved 11 15 15
Onza Amarillo 17 17 22
Pequin 24 26 35
Portugal 11 11 15
Pueblo 11 15 20
Punjab Small Hot 11 11 15
Puya 11 11 12
Sandia 11 15 20
Santa Fe Grande 11 15 20
SB Caribbean Red 10 11 11 to 47
Scotch Bonnet Fatali 11 11 20
Serrano 11 15 20
Squash Jam. Red 11 11 15
Squash Jam. Yellow 11 15 20
Sudanese 15 20 28
Sw. Wrink. Old Man 11 11 15
Tabasco 15 15 20
Tepin 18 21 31
Thai Bangkok 11 11 20
Thai Large 11 11 15
Zimbabwe Bird 11 15 15

SORTED BY
SPEED
TO 50%
GERMINATION

Variety
Days 25% Days 50% Days finished

SUPER SPEEDY
Cayenne Long Slim 6 8 11
Chimayo 7 9 11
Banana sweet 7 10 15
Jalapeno Early 10 10 10

QUICK to sprout
Aconcagua 10 11 15
Ancho 11 11 20
Catarina 8 11 20
Cherry Hot 8 11 29
Elephants Trunk 11 11 11
Fresno 11 11 11
Habanero Paper Lantern 11 11 47
Habanero Mustard 11 11 15
Habanero White Bullet® 11 11 15
Jalapeño M 11 11 20
Jalapeño TAM 11 11 11
Pasilla, Chilaca 11 11 20
Portugal 11 11 15
Punjab Sm. Hot 11 11 15
Puya 11 11 12
SB Carib Red 10 11 11 to 47
SB Fatali 11 11 20
Squash Jam. Red 11 11 15
Sw. Wrink. OM 11 11 15
Thai Bangkok 11 11 20
Thai Large 11 11 15
Bangalore Torpedo 10 12 15
Bishops Cap 10 12 15
Manzano. Red 12 12 14
Marconi Red 10 12 30

MEDIUM SPEED
Guajillo 12 13 14 to 22
Japones 11 13 24
Anaheim 10 14 20
California Mild 12 14 20
Caloro 12 14 21
Cobra 11 14 20
Aji Yellow 11 15 20
Assam 8 15 20
Bhut Jolokia Craig's 12 15 21
Dulcetta 15 15 15
Hungarian Yellow Wax 12 15 28
Joe E. Parker 11 15 20
Kurnool 11 15 20
Manzano Orange 11 15 28
Manzano Yellow 15 15 15
NM 6-4L 11 15 15
NM Big Jim 11 15 20
NM Improved 11 15 15
Pueblo 11 15 20
Sandia 11 15 20
Santa Fe Grande 11 15 20
Serrano 11 15 20
Squash Yellow. 11 15 20
Tabasco 15 15 20
Zimbabwe Bird 11 15 15

SLOW to germinate
Cascabel 17 17 17
Onza Amarillo. 17 17 22
De Arbol 17 18 18
Costeno Rojo 14 20 28
Sudanese 15 20 28

VERY SLOW
Tepin 18 21 31
Bhut Jolokia, regular 17 25 30
Pequin 24 26 35


USE THE SUPER SPEEDY peppers as checks for potting soil and temps. Use a packet of Jalapeño Early or Banana sweet, and plant them at the same time as your other pepper seeds. If your soil mix has problems, or your soil temps. are not correct, you will know within 10 days with either of those varieties.

GIVE THEM SOME LIGHT
Once seedlings appear, put in a sunny place or under grow-light to give them adequate light so they do not get leggy and too thin.
Transplant seedlings into individual 3" (8 cm) diameter pots with potting soil as soon as they can be handled, and let grow in those containers until strong. Plant young plants outside when night time temperatures consistently are above 50°F (10°C).


FERTILIZERS: Watering pepper seeds with a fertilizer solution, helps speed seed germination, by breaking a natural dormancy that is naturally in some pepper seeds.

When seedlings appear, we only recommend using diluted fish fertilizer (available in a bottle at the garden store).
The fish fertilizer can be fed frequently, and never burns. We usually feed our plants every 3 weeks during the growing season until they start to flower.

Habaneros and Scotch bonnets, especially, absolutely will need calcium many times during the growing season, in the form of bonemeal, a few Tablespoon per plant. Scatter the bonemeal around each plant, and water in. You can tell when you need calcium if the plants stop growing and if young leaves start to pucker---they are running out of calcium to build new leaves.

BONEMEAL is available at any hardware store, and if they do not have it on the shelf, they can easily order it for you. Bone meal is usually used for roses, and give each plant a sprinkle of bone meal every 2-4 weeks during the growing season.

We use 4 pounds for 100 plants each time we fertilize. This is such a critical fertilizer for hot pepper plants, especially the habaneros and Scotch bonnets, and you can see below how they look when they start suffering without it:

Bone and peppers Bone and peppers
Severe need for bonemeal, needed by pepper plants. Leaves should be flat between the veins. When these plants were fertilized, within a week, they grew another foot and the leaves flattened out.



DROOPY SEEDLINGS?
Do the seedlings come up, and then suddenly droop and die? That's called "damping off" fungus, which grows on the soil surface when it is kept too wet, and when there's not adequate air circulation. Keep the potting soil on the dry-side, always give good air circulation, and always let the very top surface of the soil dry out before re-watering the seedlings.

Do not add materials to your pepper seed starting soil that may have a lot of fungi spores, like garden soil, cow or horse manures, bat guano, worm castings, or compost. Chicken manure, blood meal, fish fertilizer, bone meal and other more sterile materials can be used, and will not add fungi that can kill your seedlings.


Seedlings at the perfect transplant size.

TRANSPLANTING PEPPERS: The picture above shows when peppers are the perfect transplant size. Take a fork and carefully dig out each plant and separate them, and plant them into their own individual 3 inch diameter or 4 inch diameter pot, where you have mixed a few tablespoons of bone meal and blood meal into the potting soil beforehand. Label each seedling.

Then water the seedlings with a mix of one gallon of water with one cup of Alaska brand liquid fish fertilizer. Allow the seedlings to grow in these pots until they are 6-8 inches tall, then they will be a good size to plant into the garden.

When you plant your seedlings into the garden, dig a hole for each seedling, and throw in a hand full of bone meal and a hand full of blood meal, and mix those fertilizers with the soil at the bottom of the hole. Then water with liquid fish, with one cup mixed into one gallon of water. Try to plant in the evening, so the seedlings have the night to get adjusted to their new home. If they wilt during the day, keep a fine mist on them during the day, until they stop wilting.


An old, untrellised Manzano red pepper plant, about 10 feet wide and 30 feet long. See the tennis-ball sized red fruit to get an idea of the size of the plant.

SPACING IN THE GARDEN: Sweet peppers are usually dwarf, so can be packing in at about 1.5 feet apart. Most hot peppers need about 2-3 feet.

The sprawling Manzanos or Rocotos (Capsicum pubescens) is unusually large, needing 3-4 feet, but in Florida, Hawaii and Coastal Southern California they are perennial vine-like plants that can be trellised like grapes, growing multiple stems from the roots, each growing to 15 feet long. The Manzanos when 3-4 years old, and when they are trellised, can produce hundreds of pounds of fruit per plant.

CONTAINER PLANTS. All peppers are perennials and can be grown in 2 or 3 or 5 gallon containers of potting soil year-round. Just bring in the plants when the nights drop below 50°F., and put them back outside when the nights are consistently above 50°F .

TIME TO PRODUCE FRUIT---Once your pepper plants are out in the garden, how long will it take them to produce? Green, unripe fruit is generally produced in 55-75 days after setting plants out into the garden, and red-ripe fruit is 90-150 days.

There are exceptions to that rule, like the Chimayo hot pepper from the high mountains of New Mexico, that starts flowering as a four-inch tall seedling, and will produce fruit in 30 days!

PLANTS MAKE FLOWERS BUT NO FRUIT? Most hot peppers and some sweet peppers require insect pollination to form fruit. If the proper insect is absent, or if the local insects are not attracted to your pepper flowers, you may see the plants flower, drop off and never set fruit. This is especially true for the blue-flowered Capsicum pubescens, the Manzanos or Rocotos, or hot peppers grown in a greenhouse.

Pollen is produced on the stamens by the anthers, and usually ripens between noon and 3 PM every day.

To hand pollinate, take a moistened water-color paint brush, and pick up some pollen on your brush and transfer it to the other flower centers. You can get close to 100% fruit set with hand pollination.


GROWING PEPPERS IN FLORIDA IN THE SUMMER? Formerly thought to be impossible, but can be successfully done, with these three changes.

1.) Always grow plants in the shade.

2.) Always feed once a month with bone meal. We use five pound for every 50 plants.

3.) May be best to grow in pots, rather than the ground, so you can move them around to find the best spot in the garden.

And the potting soil for the pots to grow peppers in the summer in Florida, should be a layer-cake, with 1/3 on the bottom a 50:50 mix of perlite Miracle Gro® Orchid Mix. Then for the 2/3rds top part, you make up a 50:50 mix of the Miracle Gro® Organic Choice and their Orchid Mix, with a cup of bone meal and a cup of blood meal mixed in thoroughly for each 12-inch diameter pot.

By using potting soil, making a well-drained mix, and keeping the plants in the shade, you should avoid all the problems of growing peppers in the summer in Florida.

My aunt grows wonderful peppers in summer in Fort Myers in the shade, so you should be able to also.


Mature plant sizes for each pepper variety:

Variety..............Height...Width
Aji Rojo................2 feet...3 feet
Aji Yellow..............4 feet...4 feet
Anaheim.................2 feet...1.5 feet
Andra...................3 feet...1 foot
Bangalore Torpedo.......3 feet...2 feet
Bhavnagari Long.........3 feet...1 foot
Bhut Jolokia............6 feet...3 feet
Bishops Cap Red.........2 feet...4 feet
Cascabel................2 feet...1 foot
Catarina................2 feet...2 feet
Cayenne Long Slim.......2 feet...4 feet
Cherry Large Hot........2-3 ft...2 feet
Cobra...................4 feet...2-3 feet
Cubanelle...............2 feet...4 feet
Dagger Pod..............2 feet...4 feet
De Arbol................4 feet...4 feet
Espanola................2-3 ft...2 feet
Fresno..................2 feet...2 feet
Guajillo................3-4 ft...3 feet
Habanero Chocolate......3 feet...4 feet
Habanero Mustard........4 feet...3 feet
Hab. Orange Craig's 3X..3 feet...4 feet
Habanero Paper Lantern..2 feet...3 feet
Habanero White Bullet®..2-3 ft...4 feet
Hungarian Yellow Wax....1 foot...3 feet
Jalapeño Early Hot......16 in....20 inches
Jalapeño Grande Craig's.2 feet...3 feet
Jalapeño Mild M.........2 feet...2 feet
Joe E. Parker...........2-3 ft...1.5-2 feet
Kurnool.................3 feet...3 feet
Manzanos, any color.....6-8 ft...15 feet
Mayan Cobanero Love.....2-4 ft...3-10 feet
Mulato..................2 feet...2 feet
Nanded..................4 feet...3 feet
Numex Big Jim...........2 feet...1 foot
Onza Rojo...............2 feet...1 foot
Pequin..................4 feet...3 feet
Portugal Hot............1.5 ft...1 foot
Pubjab Small Hot........4 feet...3 feet
Puya....................3-4 ft...3 feet
Sandia..................2 feet...1.5 feet
SB Caribbean Red........2 feet...2 feet
Scotch Bonnet Fatali....2.5 ft...3 feet
Serrano.................3 feet...4 feet
Squash Jamaican Red.....2 feet...2.5-4 feet
Squash Jamaican Yellow..2-3 ft...1 foot
Squash Red 5-in-1.......2 feet...2 feet
Sudanese................2-3 ft...1 foot
Sweet Wrinkled Old Man..2 feet...3-4 feet
Tabasco.................3-4 ft...2-3 feet
Tepin...................3 feet...4 feet
Thai Bangkok Upright....3 feet...6-8 inches
Twilight................2 feet...4 feet
Zimbabwe Bird...........8-12 in..1-2 feet

SORTED BY HEIGHT

Zimbabwe Bird...........8-12 in..1-2 feet
Hungarian Yellow Wax....1 foot...3 feet
Jalapeño Early Hot......16 in....20 inches
Portugal Hot............1.5 ft...1 foot
Squash Jamaican Yellow..2-3 ft...1 foot
Sudanese................2-3 ft...1 foot
Cascabel................2 feet...1 foot
Numex Big Jim...........2 feet...1 foot
Onza Rojo...............2 feet...1 foot
Joe E. Parker...........2-3 ft...1.5-2 feet
Anaheim.................2 feet...1.5 feet
Sandia..................2 feet...1.5 feet
Cherry Large Hot........2-3 ft...2 feet
Espanola................2-3 ft...2 feet
Catarina................2 feet...2 feet
Fresno..................2 feet...2 feet
Jalapeño Mild M.........2 feet...2 feet
Malagueta Craig's.......2 feet...2 feet
Mulato..................2 feet...2 feet
SB Caribbean Red........2 feet...2 feet
Squash Red 5-in-1.......2 feet...2 feet
Squash Jamaican Red.....2 feet...2.5-4 feet
Sweet Wrinkled Old Man..2 feet...3-4 feet
Aji Rojo................2 feet...3 feet
Habanero Paper Lantern..2 feet...3 feet
Jalapeño Grande Craig's.2 feet...3 feet
Bishops Cap Red.........2 feet...4 feet
Cayenne Long Slim.......2 feet...4 feet
Cubanelle...............2 feet...4 feet
Dagger Pod..............2 feet...4 feet
Twilight................2 feet...4 feet
Habanero White Bullet®..2-3 ft...4 feet
Mayan Cobanero Love.....2-4 ft...3-10 feet
Scotch Bonnet Fatali....2.5 ft...3 feet
Guajillo................3-4 ft...3 feet
Puya....................3-4 ft...3 feet
Tabasco.................3-4 ft...2-3 feet
Thai Bangkok Upright....3 feet...6-8 inches
Andra...................3 feet...1 foot
Bhavnagari Long.........3 feet...1 foot
Bangalore Torpedo.......3 feet...2 feet
Kurnool.................3 feet...3 feet
Habanero Chocolate......3 feet...4 feet
Hab. Orange Craig's 3X..3 feet...4 feet
Serrano.................3 feet...4 feet
Tepin...................3 feet...4 feet
Aji Yellow..............4 feet...4 feet
Cobra...................4 feet...2-3 feet
De Arbol................4 feet...4 feet
Habanero Mustard........4 feet...3 feet
Nanded..................4 feet...3 feet
Pequin..................4 feet...3 feet
Bhut Jolokia or Ghost...6 feet...3 feet
Manzanos, any color.....6-8 ft...up to 15 feet

HOW MANY FRUIT will each pepper plant produce? The yields vary according to variety, but here's some examples of high yielders that we've measured, number of fruit per plant:

Cherry Large Hot-------50-100
Espanola------------------100
Fresno--------------------100
Tabasco---------------400-500
Bhut Jolokia or Ghost---1,000
White Bullet® Habanero--1,000
Tepín-------------1,000-1,500
Manzanos when 3 years old - 500 to 1,000 pounds of fruit/plant.


Pepper Seed Cleaning.

NEVER, EVER DRY your fresh peppers fruit first, before you removing the seeds, if you want to have the best quality seeds for planting.
The moisture that is inside the pepper pod, especially the thicker podded varieties like Ancho, Jalapeño, Serrano, etc. can damage the seed quality as the pod dries.

USE FRESH-RIPE FRUIT FOR SEED, and scrape the seeds out of the fully-ripe fresh pods. Dry the seeds in the sun for a few days, taking them indoors at night. Or dry the seeds near a heater on a paper plate. If you have several varieties, write the names of each pepper on the paper plates.

Always wear rubber gloves, if you are working with hot peppers! If you are working with only a few peppers, just take a sharp knife and cut them in half, and scrape out the seeds. I usually rub the seeds over a 1/4 inch mesh screen to remove any flesh that may still be attached to the seeds, and push the seeds through the screen, usually leaving any of the pepper flesh behind.

Buy a good mask, if you are cleaning a lot of peppers. We use a 3M 8210 or even better is the 3M 8247 which has activated charcoal on the surface, which traps the pepper fumes, so you will not breathe them in.

Also, use a blender if you are working with a lot of peppers. The rule-of-thumb is that it takes 50-200 pounds of fresh peppers to make one pound of cleaned seeds. Cut off the stems (calyx) and cut the peppers in half.

Add peppers to fill the blender about 1/3 full, and then add water until the blender is 3/4 full. Blend just a few seconds to break up the pods. When you stop the blender, the pepper pulp will float to the top along with the immature seeds, and the viable seeds for future planting will sink.

If a substantial amount of the seeds are still mixed with the blended pulp, then dump the pulp into a five gallon bucket, a total of only 1-1.5 gallons and add water to the top, let sit for 30 minutes to let the good seeds settle, and carefully pour off the pulp. The good seeds should be all at the bottom of the bucket. Continue to keep adding water and pouring off the pulp until you get clean seeds.

You can drain off the floating pulp from the bucket, and use it for salsa, freeze it, etc. Add more water to make any remaining pulp float, and skim that off, then pour the seeds into a strainer, and dump seeds onto a paper plate with several layers of paper towel on the plate, for drying. Make the layer of seeds on the plate only 1-2 seeds deep, and put out in the sun to dry. Replace the paper towel once, after the first hour, and stir every hour. Check the moisture of the paper towel to see how dry the seed really is.

For larger quantities of seeds, like pounds, pour seeds from the bucket into the strainer and let drain for 20-30 minutes, then pour into a box top lined with at least four, and from 10-15 sheets of newspaper with a couple of layers of paper towel on top, and put in the sun to dry.

Change the newspaper and paper towel after the first hour of drying, then every day thereafter. Arrange the seeds in furrows, about 1" apart, and recut the furrows every hour the first day of drying, then several times a day thereafter.

Check the moistness of the newspapers underneath the seeds, to indicate when fully dry. Then store in manila envelopes for a few weeks at room temp indoors, before putting into plastic bags or jars for long-term storage.

If you are cutting or blending a lot of hot peppers, buy a 3M "8210 N95" or 3M 8247 respirator at the hardware store, because it will save your lungs for your old age. Don't rely on one of those paint or dust masks. For hot peppers you need the NIOSH approved one with the sponge rubber around the nose.

Pepper Seed Storage:

Most peppers will only keep their viability at room temperature for 3-4 years. The exception is the Capsicum pubescens group of Manzano and Rocoto peppers which have black seeds and thicker seed coats, and can last 4-6 years.

There's several ways to keep your pepper seeds longer--but first I'll list the fastest ways to kill your peppers seeds:

TOP 3 FASTEST WAYS TO KILL PEPPER SEEDS:

1.) Store them at room temp. in any of the following places
:
(a.) Near the floor or less than 4 feet off the floor
(where moisture condenses).
(b.) In an unheated building or outside (shed, garage etc.)---no moisture control.
(c.) In a cupboard or drawer--doesn't get good air circulation.

2.) If storing seed refrigerated in a jar or a plastic zip lock ("Hefty") bag, do not open the container before the seeds reach room temp. when they are still cold, because moisture can condense on seeds.

3.) Store them in plastic or a glass jar,
and you don't have a way to tell if there is moisture still in the seed, at least add a strip of newsprint or a ULINE 10-60% humidity strip.
.

BEST WAYS TO STORE PEPPER SEEDS

Jars or plastic zip lock in the refrigerator, never at room temp.
.
I personally like the Hefty brand freezer bag, which is very easy to get, or even better is the Ziploc® brand Vacuum Freezer bags which can be purchased online or at larger grocery stores.

Check moisture in seeds. Jars or plastic bags are great for storing pepper seeds in the refrigerator, but you need to put at least a slip of newspaper in with the seeds, as a moisture indicator.

If you pull out the newspaper, and it is not crispy-dry, you need to dump out both the newspaper and the seeds out onto a paper plate to dry in the sun, to drive off excess moisture. Or you can purchase some "indicator silica gel", and put that in with your seeds to absorb any moisture.

Bulk indicator silica gel is sold at crafts shops, to dry flowers, called Flower Drying Crystals. We take a few tablespoons of the gel and put it into a paper packet, like a #3 or #4 coin envelope, that you can buy at a stationery store. Then fold the flap but do not seal, just close with a paper clip. Check the gel periodically, and is will change from dark blue to pink when it has absorbed moisture.

humidity strip
Uline Humidity strip, about life sized

Adding an indicator humidity strip, a UNLINE 10-60% is extremely useful, and it takes the place of the newspaper strip. The Uline strip changes color to indicate the moisture level in your seeds.

Always label and date your seed stocks. You should always store pepper seeds in jars or Freezer zip locks and always keep them refrigerated (not frozen) and not at room temperature.

When you are ready to use your stored seeds, always take the jar or ziplock out of the refrigerator a few hours before you are going to plant, to let the seeds inside warm up to room temperature, before you open the jar or bag.

By refrigerating your pepper seeds, you can keep them viable for at least five years, and maybe ten years or longer.

In 2009 we planted some seeds stored in the refrigerator for 21 years, and still got excellent germination. Do not freeze pepper seeds, just refrigerate.



Seed Counts.
For a complete list, see http://www.ecoseeds.com/counts.html


Variety.............Seeds/oz.....per lb.....per Kg.
Bhut Jolokia...............5,400.......86,000.....190,000
Chocolate Habanero.........6,250......100,000.....220,000
Manzano or Rocoto..........4,400.......70,000.....155,000
Tepin......................7,250......116,000.....255,000


SEED HARVESTING AND SELECTION TIPS

By saving your own seeds from your peppers, you could develop an even better variety than you could commercially purchase. The first rule of pepper selection, is to harvest seed from the first fruit crop produced and from only the largest fruit.

Then, you might take a look at maximum fruit production per plant, plant height, or in pimentos, enough leaf cover to protect the fruit from sunburn, for example. Or look for unusual fruit colors or shapes to reproduce.

By saving seed from the first crop and the largest fruit, you can select for a plant that ripens earlier, and produces larger fruit. If you save from later crops, you may end up selecting for later and later maturing plants.

If you are saving for the hotter and hotter fruits, you need to take a sample fruit from each plant and assay them for their heat levels, and do the Dremann Hotness Scale test in your kitchen. You will need a scale that can weigh in grams, a blender, and a baby's graduated medicine dropper from the pharmacy. Details of the test method is free on the web.



PEPPER SEED TESTING
If you have stored pepper seeds, it is a good idea to test them a month or two before planting season, to see what the current germination rate is.

You are going to need some large cotton balls, a permanent marker, bottled water, a bowl and plate, tweezers, plus a sheet of paper and a pen to record your tests.

Get some large cotton balls from the cosmetics department of the drug store or grocery store. Put them in a bowl and find a plate that is the right size to cover the bowl. If the plate is clear glass, that is best, or buy one from the hardware store for that purpose.

Flatten out the cotton balls, and if you are going to test more than one batch of pepper seeds, use a ballpoint pen or permanent marker to put a number on the edge of each cotton ball to identify them.

Then put bottled water (not tap water) in the bowl, and moisten the cotton and drain. Do not press the moisture out of the cotton, just let it drain out naturally. Cotton balls can be touching or have spaces between them.

Then use one cotton ball per variety, and using tweezers, place 10-20 seeds on each cotton ball, and space seeds evenly apart. Make a record of your test on a sheet of paper,that will look like this:

1.) Anaheim 7-24-11, 10 seeds--7 g 10 d, 3 g 14 d, finish. = 100%
2.) Ghost pepper 7-24-11, 20 seeds -- 10 g 18 d, 6 g 24 d, finish. = 80%

What that means, is on cotton ball #1 on 7-24-11 you put 10 seeds of Anaheim and 7 seeds germinated 10 days later, then three more on the 14th day, then the test was finished, and you had 100% germination.

The on cotton ball #2, you put 20 seeds on the cotton on July 24th, and then counted the seedlings on the 18th and 24th days, and ended with 80% germination.

The bowl and plate should be put up somewhere in a heated room up high where the temp. durting the day may reach 80-85%, like on top of a book case, on top of a refrigerator, etc.

Always remove seedlings from the cotton as you count them. When you count the germinated seedlings, carefully use your tweezers, and pull off those seedlings as you count them, and you could plant them in pots if you wish.


DRYING PEPPERS to preserve their heat levels

Using fresh ripe orange habaneros from the grocery store, Jeff Woodcock of Pennsylvania measured the results of different drying temperatures:

Always use fully ripe peppers for drying, as green peppers or immature peppers do not dry well.

Cut the peppers lengthwise. You can air dry them in the sun, use a food dehyrdator, or in the oven set at low heat. You can dry peppers to leather-dry (fruit still bendable), or "cracker-dry" (breaks into flakes when bent).

In all cases, 8-9 pounds of fresh habanero peppers produced one pound of dried peppers.

The following information is the results of drying the habaneros to cracker-dry stage.

Using the food dehydrator at 110 deg. F., it took 26 hours for fresh habaneros to dry, and the dried pepper heat level were increased 7X from their fresh level, but the peppers lost 13% of its total heat when compared to the fresh pepper levels.

The oven set at 170 deg. F., the heat level of the dried peppers increased 6X from the fresh level, but the additional heat caused the peppers to lose 23% of their total heat when compared to the fhesh pepper levels. Time to cracker-dry was 8.5 hours.

The oven set at 200 deg. F., the heat levels of the dried peppers increased 5.6X from the fresh level, but lost 40% of their total heat, and the sugars in the pepper was starting to turn brown. The time to cracker-dry was not much faster than 170 deg. F., in 8.0 hours, but the fruit lost nearly half of their total heat, and changed their color and ultimately their flavor.


REMEMBER--All peppers are perennials, and make nice house-plants if grown in potting soil in 2-3 gallon plastic pots, and taken indoors when the nights drop into the 40s.

Move plants outdoors when nights go back into the 50s and keep growing them in their containers. Plants will live for several years that way, most will stop growing in the winter and drop most of their leaves, but will leaf back out in spring.




>>>PEPPER SEEDS for sale, press here

Updated June 29, 2012