When to Start Pepper Seeds Indoors [Calculator]: Get Your Best Planting Dates

Here’s when to start pepper seeds indoors: plant seeds 8 to 10 weeks before your last expected frost. The right timing gives plants a long enough growing season without being exposed to freezes. Use the tool below to get your last frost date and custom planting dates so you know when to plant peppers in your location.

Pepper Seed Starting Calculator

This calculator displays your last expected date of frost, and it counts back 8 to 10 weeks to provide the best dates to sow pepper seeds indoors. It also tells you when to transplant pepper seedlings outside (2 to 3 weeks after your last frost).

Enter your zip code or city, state to get your last frost and pepper planting dates.

Note: Frost dates are just estimates and are not guaranteed to be accurate. Always check your local weather report.

calculator tip

You can also use this tool for other warm-season crops that get started during the same timeframe. For example, tomatoes, eggplants, onions and shallots.

So you have your pepper seed starting date, but what about planting hot pepper seeds? Or, what if you start seeds too late? These answers, along with tips on germination and pepper seedlings care, are coming up.

Let’s continue!

When To Plant Peppers By Hardiness Zone

when to plant peppers by hardiness zone map
when to plant peppers by hardiness zone legend
Source: USDA

Your plant hardiness zone (gardening zone) gives you the average winter temperature for your geographic area. You can use the chart below as another resource when starting pepper seeds.

Garden ZoneLast Frost DateWhen To Start Pepper Seeds Indoors
3May 1 – 15Mar 6 – 20
4May 23 – Jun 13Mar 28 – Apr 18
5May 9 – Jun 4Mar 14 – Apr 9
6Apr 28 – May 14Mar 3 – 19
7Mar 30 – Apr 16Feb 2 – 19
8Mar 13 – 29Jan 16 – Feb 1
9Feb 6 – 28Dec 12 – Jan 3
10-13No freezesWhenever you’d like!

(Gardening zones 1-2 aren’t included because the growing season is too short.)

grow tips

These dates are just estimates. Always check your local weather report for the most accurate information.

Ideally, you want to start pepper seeds indoors at least 8 weeks before your last expected frost. If you live in a hardiness zone with a shorter growing season, cut this time down to 6 weeks.

When To Plant Hot Peppers

when to plant hot peppers
Bhut Jolokia Peppers

Hot peppers — especially super hot pepper seeds — take more time to sprout than sweet varieties. Schedule an extra two weeks for planting hot pepper seeds indoors. This gives hot pepper seeds time for germination and for growing ripe chillies outside.

grow tips

Bell pepper seeds and other pepper varieties usually take up to 2 weeks to germinate. For comparison, superhots like the Ghost pepper and Trinidad Scorpion pepper may need a month or more to sprout.

Starting Pepper Seeds Too Soon Or Too Late

starting pepper seeds too soon calendar and hourglass

Pepper plants aren’t frost-hardy. (A term you might find on seed packets.) If you start seeds too soon, they’ll need to stay indoors until it’s warm enough. Otherwise, the wrong temperatures can stunt a pepper’s growth or even kill the plant.

And, if you sow pepper seeds too late, you probably won’t get much of a harvest (if at all) because these plants have such a long growing season. In this situation, you can winterize (overwinter) your pepper plants and put them out again when it gets warmer.

When To Start Pepper Seeds Indoors (Outside US)

when to start pepper seeds indoors, calendar and pen

If you’re outside the US, here are some links that can provide your last expected date of frost.

Australia

Canada

United Kingdom

After you know your last expected date of frost, count back 8 to 10 weeks to get your pepper seed starting dates.

(If I didn’t include your country, it’s because I couldn’t find a website that provides frost date information. Sorry about that, and thank you so much for visiting my site!)

Growing Seedlings Tips

growing seedlings tips
Indoor Pepper Seedlings

Starting peppers indoors in the 8 to 10-week timeframe gives seeds enough time for germination. It also gives you time to grow your pepper seedlings indoors before you transplant them outside.

grow tips

For reference, sweet peppers can usually germinate in 7 to 10 days. Hot peppers can two weeks or more. And, superhots may take six weeks or longer.

» Related – Germinating Pepper Seeds: Tricks to Get Them to Sprout

The following sections will help you take care of your new pepper seedlings.

After Seeds Germinate

after seeds germinate

Seed germination can happen on different days, even if you planted pepper seeds at the same time. After a seed germinates and stands upright, you’ll need to take it off of the heat mat and out from under the lid. Your new seedling will also need light.

» Related: How to Care for Pepper Seedlings after Seeds Sprout

You can expect to grow pepper seedlings indoors for a couple of months before they go outside. This guide walks you through all the steps of taking care of your indoor pepper seedlings.

Transplanting Pepper Seedlings

transplanting pepper seedlings

Pepper seedlings are usually transferred to larger pots about 3 to 4 weeks after germination. A 4-inch container or a plastic cup works well for transplanting plants indoors. (Make sure you poke holes in the cup if you use it.)

» Related – Transplanting Pepper Plants: When and How to Move Chillies to Bigger Pots

As for moving pepper plants outside, do the following:

  • Use the calculator to get the dates when you can move plants outdoors (2 to 3 weeks after the last frost).
  • Harden off your seedlings to prepare them for living outside.
  • Make sure night temperatures are regularly above 55°F (13°C). If you have a shorter growing season, you can experiment with 46°F (8°C) to gain as much time as possible.

Keep Seed Starting Records

keep seed starting records

Keep notes when you start planting seeds indoors so that you create a customized planting schedule. For example, note seed starting dates, pepper varieties, germination dates and outdoor transplant dates. (The seed planting calculator provides transplant info.)

Also, certain pepper varieties take a long time to sprout. Recording pepper seed germination times can tell you if you need to start these varieties earlier.

And again, frost dates are only estimates based on averages. They don’t take into account things like microclimates and temperature fluctuations. Your personalized schedule helps ensure you start seeds indoors at the right time for your climate.

Starting Pepper Plants Indoors FAQs

What’s Next?

I hope that this information kickstarts a successful pepper growing season!

Now that you know when to start pepper seeds indoors, your next step is to start growing your seeds. This pepper growing guide steps you through the germination process and describes all the processes for growing chillies.

Related Posts:


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.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Jenny is the creator of Grow Hot Peppers as well as the writer of the gardening guides and many recipes on this site. She’s been growing peppers and all kinds of veggies for over 10 years. When she’s not writing or gardening, she loves eating spicy food, hiking and going to the ocean.