Seed packets don’t always tell you when to sow your seeds. That’s just one reason why understanding when to plant pepper seeds is confusing.
Add to that your experience in growing food. As a new grower, you might not know what gardening zone you’re in.
And, what does the seed packet information (if it’s included) even mean? Days to maturity? Might as well be another language.
Peppers take a long time to grow. The least amount of time is about 60 days. Hotter chillies can take a few months.
(By the way, the phrase “days to maturity” means the length of time it takes to go from seed to flowering or fruiting plant.)
Knowing When to Plant Pepper Seeds Is Crucial
It’s very important to get the timing right when you plant pepper seeds.
Sowing Pepper Seeds Too Soon
Pepper plants just aren’t frost-hardy. (Another term you might find on seed packets.) Essentially, they won’t survive a frost or freezing temperatures. The wrong temperatures can also stunt a pepper’s growth.
This is why you don’t want to plant your seeds too early. Specifically, you want to give them enough time to grow so that they only go outside after the last expected frost date has passed for you area. (More on this below.)
Planting Pepper Seeds Too Late
Peppers also have a long growing season. This means if you sow your seeds later, you might not get much of a harvest (if at all) because they didn’t have a long enough time to mature.
(By the way, if you end up in that situation you can always try winterizing your pepper plants. You’ll get a head start on the next season!)
Starting seeds too late also means your plants run the risk of being outside during your location’s first expected frost date. (Again, more details on finding this date below.)
How Long Will Seedlings Be Inside?
When you start your pepper seeds indoors, you can expect them to be inside with you for a couple of months. (Mine usually stay inside about 8 to 12 weeks.)
That’s a lot of care and attention.
In my opinion, there’s a large learning curve when it comes to starting peppers from seeds. It can take a lot of mistakes to get to them to the point where they survived the seedling stage and are ready for the outdoors.
The last thing you want is to lose them after all that hard work. (Plus, it’s easy to get attached to your plants. I always do!)
Figuring Out The Best Time
Now that we got that out of the way, here’s how you figure out the right time to plant your chile seeds. The good news is that you only need to know a couple of things.
Know Your Gardening Zone
The charts and links below will help you understand what zone your particular location falls into.
- USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
- Canada’s Plant Hardiness Site
- Plant Hardiness Zones for Australia
- New Zealand Plant Hardiness Zones
- Hardiness Zone Map for the UK
Find Your Location’s Last Expected Day of Frost
These sites will help you get this information.
UK, Ireland and France
After You Know Your Last Expected Date of Frost
Simply count back at least three months to determine when to sow your seeds.
For example, if your last date of frost is in May, plant your seeds in late January or early February.
(Be sure to check out this post about germinating your pepper seeds if you need help with this next step.)
- Remember, pepper plants do not do well in the cold. They usually won’t survive temperatures that go below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can’t live past a frost.
- The last expected date of frost isn’t exact. The information is typically based on average history, but it doesn’t take into account unexpected weather. Always check with your local weather reports before sowing seeds and especially before moving your plants outside.
I hope you find this information useful! After your seeds sprout, be sure to check out the how to care for pepper seedlings guide for what to do next.
- Heirloom Peppers vs Open Pollinated vs Hybrid Seeds: What’s The Difference?
- Germinating Pepper Seeds: Tricks to Get Them to Sprout
- How to Test Pepper Seed Viability So You Don’t Waste Your Time
- Planting Pepper Seeds Indoors
If you’d like a complete guide for turning your pepper seeds into healthy plants, be sure to check out The Pepper Seed Starting Guide. This ebook steps you through all of the processes of starting seeds indoors and growing them into healthy, outdoor-ready plants.