Did you know you can prepare bell pepper seeds for planting the following year? Since the plants are self pollinating, new plants will grow from the seeds you save from this year's harvest.
Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) ripen in shades of yellow, orange, red, green or purple, and the seeds inside the peppers appear disc-shaped and white. The small seeds require specific light and temperature settings for them to germinate and are often germinated indoors to control the conditions. Bell pepper seeds will germinate in eight to 10 weeks depending on the variety and growing environment. After the seeds germinate, you can harvest the peppers in 65 to 70 days.
Step 1: Select the Ideal Bell Peppers
Select fresh bell peppers from your garden for harvesting seeds. Don't use hybrid peppers, as they often grow with different characteristics than the hybrid. Avoid purchasing bell peppers from the grocery store to save seeds because they are often sterilized. Harvest bell pepper seeds from your garden that have not cross-pollinated with other vegetables.
Step 2: Harvest the Seeds
Cut the tops off of the peppers with a knife. Scoop the insides out of the pepper with a spoon. Remove any debris from the seeds and spread them on a pepper towel in a single layer.
Step 3: Place Seeds in the Sun
Place the paper towel with the seeds on a plate. Place the seeds outdoors in the sun or next to a sunny window. Allow the bell pepper seeds to dry for five to six days.
Step 4: Store Pepper Seeds
Store the pepper seeds in a paper envelope. Label the envelope to make it easy to identify in the spring. Store the envelope in a dry location until early spring arrives.
Step 5: Prep Starting Pots
Step 6: Soak Bell Pepper Seeds
Soak the bell pepper seeds in warm water for three hours. Sow two bell pepper seeds in each container. The seeds require a shallow planting, so plant them twice as deep as their diameter.
Step 7: Plant the Seeds
Cover the pots with a clear plastic bag or a plastic dome that comes with seed starting pots. Inspect the soil daily to ensure that it does not dry out completely. Water the soil so that it remains moist. Avoid overwatering the seeds because it can lead to fungal infestations.
Step 8: Keep the Seeds Warm
Maintain the 80 F temperature under the heat lamp. Keep the bell peppers under the heat for 16 hours a day. Always check the soil temperature to ensure that it remains between 80 and 90 F during the daytime. Turn the heat lamp off for eight hours at night so that the soil temperature remains above 60 F. Continue to repeat the heat and light conditions until the seeds germinate.
Step 9: Thin the Seedlings
Thin the bell pepper seeds to one healthy seedling to each pot once one set of true leaves develops. Transplant the bell pepper seedlings outdoors once the threat of frost passes and the soil temperature remains above 50 F. Space the pepper plants 12 to 18 inches apart.
Angela LaFollette was born in raised in West Virginia, but she currently resides with her husband and children in Minnesota. She is food freelance writer and blogger as well as a full-time stay at home mother. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marshall University. Angela's work has appeared on many online publications like Yahoo!, eHow, and Leaf Group.