The Q&A Archives: Hot Pepper Transplants

Question: I have started 2 different pepper plants indoors in peat pots. They are habanero and Thai Dragon. They have come up beautifully and just have the first set of leaves on them. They are good strong plants. When do I start setting them outdoors to get used to the weather locally?

Answer: Pepper plants thrive in warm weather. When the nighttime temperatures remain above 50F, you can safely transplant your pepper plants outdoors. Be sure to arden them off first.

The hardening off process usually takes about a week and can begin anytime after the seedlings have developed four sets of leaves. (The plants can be moved sooner, but they will adjust better if they are more mature.) Begin the process by taking the plants outdoors, placing them in an area protected from direct sunshine, and leaving them for a few hours, then taking them back indoors. Increase the amount of time they stay outdoors for 2-3 days, then gradually move them to direct sunshine for short periods of time. After 4-5 days of increasing time outdoors and increased exposure to sunlight, they should be ready to spend the night outside. After their second night of experiencing life in the great outdoors they should be sufficiently hardened off and ready to be planted in the garden. Obviously, if the weather gets really cold and nasty, the plants should be protected with hotcaps or covers of some kind.

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