How to Know When to Plant Pepper Seeds (and Why It’s Important)

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.

when to plant pepper seeds in seed packets
Pepper Seed Packets

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

Not to be dramatic, but it’s true. Here’s why.

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.

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.)

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.

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.)

leaves in frost
Don’t Let Pepper Plants Stay Outside During A Frost

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!)

pepper seedlings indoors
Indoor Pepper Seedlings

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
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Legend

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.)

Final Notes

  • 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 and I wish you an amazing harvest!

More Posts On Pepper Seeds

​And for those of you looking for complete, how-to steps on all indoor growing phases, from ​germinating your seeds to g​etting your seedlings to the point ​where they can safely go outside… Make sure to check out the updated and expanded Pepper Seed Starting Guide. I personally use this resource to ​start my abundant ​chile garden each season, and I’m always here to answer questions!

How to Know When to Plant Pepper Seeds (and Why It\'s Important)

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