The Q&A Archives: Starting Pepper Seeds

Question: I built a hotbed out of old windows removed from the house. In January I started all of my Burpee seeds in Jiffy peat pots to start seedlings for transplanting. Everything did really well. I watered daily with a water soluable fertilizer water solution. I noticed that none of the pepper seeds or eggplant seeds came up but everything else did. I also noticed that these seeds are similar in shape and assume family group. What did I do wrong? All of Burpee's other seeds had over a 95% germination rate. I would doubt their pepper seeds and eggplant seeds are failing at a 100% rate. I must be doing something wrong. Its too late this year and I'll have to buy my plants, but I would like to get it right next year.

Answer: Congratulations on the seedstarting! Sorry the eggplants and peppers didn't work out, though. They are in the same family, by the way, along with tomatoes, potatoes and even petunias! They need a lot of warmth to get going, too, more than many other plants. Next year, try germinating them indoors in a warm spot. I face a spotlight on my seedling pots, which means I have to water more often, but the seeds appreciate it. Also, once they are up and growing, peppers grow better when the soil is on the dry side.

Another note -- plants don't need fertilizer until they have their first "true" leaves. The first leaves that emerge from the soil are the seed leaves, and the ones to grow after that are true leaves. That may save you some fertilizer. Best of luck!

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