Did you know you can use your AeroGarden® to start pepper seeds? Aerogardens are all-in-one hydroponic systems that make it super-easy to start all varieties of chiles and peppers such as Hatch Green Chile Seeds, Carolina Reaper Seeds, and other green chile seeds and hot pepper seeds.
Many of our customers use Aerogardens to start their vegetable seeds, including pepper seeds. Here are our tips for success:
Use the Aerogarden seed trays (typically sold separately) to start seedlings. These seed starting trays have 50 seedlings per tray, but Aerogarden makes a lot of different models now, we have shown here our older fluorescent 7 pod model that fits a floating foam tray with 50 holes. There are also other hydroponic seedling starting options as well from other garden supply companies. We do like starting seedlings hydroponically as you don't have to babysit them for moisture as you do more with seedling mix, you just fill the reservoir when it gets low once a week or so. The downside is that you do need to buy the special grow sponges that will fit into these trays, and they can only be used once. We recently discovered these replacement aerogarden sponges that are made from coco-coir instead of peat, so we have been using these this year.
- Start peppers indoors in your Aerogarden about 4-8 weeks before the last frost (ideally, you should plant peppers outdoors once temperatures have reached 70º F at night. If it's colder than that, they will be very slow to grow until it warms up. You can also use Wall O' Water season extenders to keep them warm until the nights warm up.
Peppers need heat to germinate! We have used a seedling heating mat under our Aerogarden to keep it warmer and get the seeds to germinate. Ideal germination temperatures are between 80-90º Fahrenheit.
- When the seedling has grown to 3-4", you can plant the grow sponges directly in the garden when the weather has warmed up. You can also transplant them into deep seedling containers with seedling mix if they start getting too large in the Aerogarden starter tray as they will quickly get large and crowded. You want to make sure their root systems don't get too big in the seedling starter trays, which are small, so make sure transplant them when they get too large for the space.
- Make sure to acclimate the seedlings before planting. Sensitive pepper seedlings need to acclimate to the sun and weather by setting them outside for several days before planting, starting them out in shade or dappled shade, and moving them into the sun for a few hours and gradually working up to full days of sun. We bring out our Aerogarden tray to the garden (without the light stand) to acclimate the seedlings. We also recommend that you leave them outside for a few nights once the temperature is at least around 60-70º F before transplanting as well.
Video Above: These Sandia Seed pepper seedlings are growing very well in an Aerogarden with a heat mat under it. Pretty much every seed germinated, so we have to thin these out. In this video we "pluck" one of the seedlings out of the pod, I often transplant these into any other pods that didn't sprout (in this case, none!) or I add a couple new pods if there is room and pull pod apart at the top to gently place the seedling roots inside. This works great! You can also transplant them into small pots filled with good seedling soil mix. In this Aerogarden, we've started Hatch Chile Seeds, Hot Pepper Seeds like the Trinidad Scorpion and Sweet Pepper Seeds like Shishitos.
Grow your own Hatch chile seeds, hot pepper seeds, or sweet pepper seeds. We have a great variety of pepper seeds that are easy to grow from seed at home for your garden, no matter where you live!
Learn more about how to grow peppers »
Sometimes, if the Aerogarden planted chile peppers outgrow their Aerogarden space before we're ready to harden off and plant outside, so we will also transplant the seedling pods into toilet paper rolls filled with potting soil. These are a great way to recycle and are bottomless, so can be put into a tupperware container and kept happy until ready to plant outside.