Hot Pepper Dudes, LLC

Germination and Hardening Off
April 27, 2012, 7:09 pm
Filed under: Growing Hot Peppers | Tags:
After, you start your seeds you will be patiently awaiting the first sprouts.  You’ll want to keep the peats moist at all times, but don’t over water them.  If they still are dark in color, they are plenty wet.
You’ll note that each variety of pepper plant takes a different amount of time to germinate.  For instance, my Rooster Spur varitety germinated in just 8 days whereas I’m still waiting for my Big Jim pepper to do so (it’s been over 4 weeks now).
Once you see your first plant germinate, you’ll want to crack the greenhouse dome to allow some air in.  You don’t need to remove it, just pop up a corner.
You’ll know it’s time to remove the dome entirely when the first of the plants touches the top of the dome.  At this point, remove it and put the whole tray in a sunny location (still inside).
Keeping the peats moist will require more attention now since the dome has been removed.  I use a spray bottle full of water and just give them a light spray each evening.  In this manner you can avoid over watering and still provide a good environment for the rest of the seeds to germinate.
Once all of your plants have germinated, you’re going to want to start helping them get used to being outside.  You should wait to start doing this until:
  1. The plants are two inches tall (or more), and
  2. The outdoor temperatures are consistently above 65, at least during the day.

Keep in mind that your plants have been living a very tame life in your climate controlled home since they were born.  Teaching them the realities of the real world (full sun, wind, etc.) should be done a little at a time so they can get used to it.

The best way to do this is to place them outside for short periods of time and then expand those periods little by little until they can stay outside all day long.

  • Day 1 – Place plants outside for 1 hour.
  • Day 2 – Place plants outside for 2 hours.
  • Days 3 – 10 – Increase outside time by 1 hour each day.
  • After that, leave them outside all day and bring them in at night.
  • When night temperatures consistently remain moderate (50 degrees plus should be fine at this point), the plants can be left outside full time.

If at any point during the hardening process you notice the plants drooping or browning, do not increase the time outdoors the next day (use the same time outside until they look like they’re handling it fine).

Also, keep in mind that you will need to water these guys every day when they are still in peats as the direct sunlight and their growth will rapidly deplete the water.  It’s best at this stage to just add water to the bottom of the greenhouse tray and let them absorb what they need.  If you add too much, just pour off the excess.

Once your plants are hardened off and ready to stay outside full time, it’s time to select a permanent growing location for each of them.


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