Saving pepper seeds is one of the easiest vegetable seeds to collect and preserve.
By harvesting the best peppers on the plant, collecting the healthiest looking seeds, and storing them properly, you’ll have seeds ready for the next growing season.
Save Pepper Seeds: Why?
Saving pepper seeds is an eco-friendly act of sustainability. The action brings us closer to the art form of planting.
Starting some plants through their seed is difficult. Other seeds can be hard to collect in the first place. This is not the case with most pepper varieties. They are easy to grow for seed collection.
When saving seeds from peppers, never forget different species cand varieties ross-pollinate. Cross pollinated plants will be difficult to reproduce. This includes:
These breeds contain varied sets of genes and characteristics. This requires greater plant distancing to reduce cross-pollination.
Harvest Pepper Seeds
Saving pepper seeds is easy enough. Choose fruit from the most robust parent plants producing the best peppers. Allow the selected fruit to ripen completely until the fruit begins to wrinkle.
That process can take several months. Ensure pods are fully mature.
Once you remove the fruit, cut it open, and remove the mature seeds. Inspect the seeds carefully, discarding discolored or damaged bits. Spread the pepper seeds on a newspaper or paper towels and leave them to dry naturally.
Place them in a warm area with no sunlight. Every few days, turn the seeds so that all sides dry evenly.
After seven days, see if the pepper seeds have dried enough. They should be brittle but do not dent if you try to bite into them.
Saving Seeds of Pepper Plants
Pepper seed viability boils down to how it’s stored. Your bounty has to remain under consistent temps to eliminate excess moisture. Correctly stored, pepper seeds will last years (but be aware germination rates will decrease over time).
Place the seeds in an airtight plastic bag, set the bag inside a plastic food storage container, or place the seeds in tightly sealed glass containers. Make sure the seeds stay cool and dry.
Find a cool, dry, dark area to store seeds. Temps should stay between 35° – 50° degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, this may be your refrigerator.
Some Extra Storage Tips
Add a small amount of silica gel desiccant to the container. The compound will help absorb moisture. You can find it at craft stores for drying flowers. You could also substitute one to two tablespoons of powdered milk.
Wrap the powder in a piece of facial tissue or cheesecloth and that in the container. Powdered milk is good for about six months.
Make sure to label the container. Most pepper seeds resemble each other, and you don’t want to forget what’s what when planting time comes around. The label should state the type, variety, and date you collected and saved the pepper seeds.
When to Plant Pepper Seeds
You want to plant your first seeds indoors. Early growth can die from frost. New seedling growth can be distressed under cold spring weather conditions. Peppers will need a good two months of indoor life.
Use bright overhead lighting. Pepper seeds want bright light. They strain and grow stems and leaves to reach that light source. Insufficient light will result in seedings growing tall and leggy from the start.
Get yourself some seed warmers. They speed up germination using “bottom heat” to manage the soil’s temps. That stimulates plant growth. You want to keep growth compact and small at this point.
Once germination occurs, remove the mats. Too much heat and the seedlings will grow too fast and outgrow their containers.
Temps should be around 64° degrees Fahrenheit, allowing seeds to grow slowly and steadily. This best prepares them for healthy transplants to your garden.
Seedlings appreciate air movement. It reduces excess moisture and minimizes mildew and mold issues. Even slight movement develops solid cell walls, preparing plants to withstand the great outdoors.
If under a dome, remove it after germination so that the seed freely gets air. A small table fan can be of benefit to your pepper seeds.
Saving pepper seeds is an inexpensive and easy-to-implement process that promises to provide vegetables for many years. Thin seedlings to maximize their health and success.