"Why didn't my pepper seeds germinate?"
This is a common question in the vegetable gardening world. It's not uncommon for experienced gardeners to have trouble starting peppers from seed.
Number One Reason Pepper Seeds Don't Germinate:
We find that the number one reason that pepper seeds don't germinate is if they are kept below 80˚ F when germinating. Pepper seeds, especially hot pepper seeds, germinate much more successfully when kept consistently moist at 85˚-90˚ F during the germination process. This means you cannot germinate most pepper seeds very well in an unheated greenhouse in early spring if the temperatures fall below 80˚ F, especially at night. We recommend starting pepper seeds indoors, and using a seedling heat mat to keep them nice and toasty until sprouted. Additionally, patience is key...
Patience is Key When Germinating Pepper Seeds:
Pepper seeds can take anywhere from 7-10 days to germinate (for fast germinating varieties like Early Jalapeno seeds or our Mild Hatch Green Chile Seeds,) but some of the super hot pepper seeds like the hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper can take anywhere from 20-30+ days to germinate! So make sure you tack on that extra time and start extra hot peppers extra early so that you can make up for the long time it takes them to sprout.
We start Carolina Reapers and other super hots in January/February so they have plenty of time to sprout and get some growth time in before transplating outdoors once it's warmed up to at least 60˚ F at night and all chance of frost has passed (or if provided with some shelter). They can take 90+ days from germination to harvest, so give them plenty of time! They're also notoriously slow to grow at first, so be patient, and keep them warm.
Of course, using fresh seeds will also help with germination success. Keep in mind that not every pepper seed will germinate, but you'll find that if you keep them warm and moist the chances are much higher for most seeds to sprout!
Here are some more tips for Germinating pepper seeds »
Find more general tips on how to grow peppers »