Germinating Chillies From Seed
Without germination, nothing grows. It's important to get it right. There is however, more than one way to skin a cat.
Method 1- The paper towel method. Place the seeds in between two sheets of damp kitchen paper and place into a either a sealed food bag or plastic container. Place the seeds somewhere warm, such as in an airing cupboard.
This method will help keep the heat and the moisture around the seeds, and speed up the germination process. In 2-5 days you may notice some of the seeds have swollen and some may be sprouting.
Now it’s time to remove the sprouting seed and plant in your compost mix. A heated propagator will speed matters up and increase your success rate, but it is not a necessity. See the tips page for alternatives.
Method 2- The conventional method. Plant your seeds straight into compost mix. Remember, germination times and success rates vary. Some seed will germinate in a matter of days, other take 3 or 4 weeks or more.
When planting chilli seeds aim to space them about 3-5cm apart, then lightly cover the seeds with about 2-5 mm of compost. mist your seedlings with water, or bottom water, rather then pour water onto the seedlings or later stems, as that can cause ‘damping off’.
Check the condition of the compost daily. Never let the compost completely dry out and conversely don’t keep the compost wetter than necessary.
The seeds or later seedlings have two requirements, heat and moisture. The optimum temperature for germination varies with species. With the seed compost at 27-30°C, you should see good results.
Seeds will still germinate down to 21°C (70°F) but germination will be slower and more erratic. If the temperature drifts towards 38°C (100°F) germination will be quick but there will be a lower success rate.
Keep the temperature of the seeds constant as constant as possible. I simply place the trays either on a window sill above a radiator or on top of the refrigerator.
Once the seedlings have germinated, remove them from the propagator and give them all the light you can. Keep them away from cold draughts.