Pepper Seeds did not Germinate?-Here’s why

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You have purchased pepper seeds with dreams of a beautiful plant coming up full of delicious peppers. You plant the seeds and wait impatiently only to see nothing grow.

There are several reasons your pepper seeds didn’t germinate.

Pepper seeds germinate best in temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees and will not sprout if the temperature is below 60 degrees. Your seeds must be planted at the correct depth and require regular watering and moist soil, along with the proper pH levels.

Germination rates decline in older seeds and some seeds just never sprout, but some varieties of peppers need more time, so if you find all the conditions are right, have patience and give them time.

Keep reading to learn more about why your pepper seeds may not have germinated.

Reasons why pepper seeds not sprouting

Temperature Issues  

The most common reason your pepper seeds didn’t germinate is that the temperature was too cold for them. Pepper seeds don’t germinate as successfully if temperatures are below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best results come when pepper seeds are kept at temperatures between 85 and 90 degrees for the germination period. 

Seeds can sprout in cooler temperatures, but germination rates are overall not as high, and the seedlings are not as healthy. These seeds planted in colder conditions often rot and don’t produce anything. If they do sprout, the plants are not healthy and are weaker than plants who were raised in ideal conditions.  

A seedling heat mat is a good idea for indoor seed starters to help maintain an even and ideal temperature.  

Regular Watering 

Water is a basic part of all life on this planet. We all need it and your pepper seeds are no different. If your seeds have not germinated, it might be because the soil was either way too wet, or not moist enough. 

Pepper seeds need moist, but not soaking wet soil. If the water is too wet, you run the risk of the seeds rotting in the dirt, but a lack of moisture will see the seeds drying out. Check the soil daily, running it through your fingers to test. If it feels dry, give them a little water.  

Watch The pH Levels 

Pepper seeds and plants don’t like acidic soil. Many commercially sold seed starter mixes are composed of sphagnum moss or peat moss, both of which have high acidity levels.

If you are having trouble with your seeds sprouting, try changing up the seed starter. There are many on the market, with coir or coconut fiber. These will have a pH level closer to neutral, eliminating a lot of the acidity pepper seeds and plants don’t want.  

Plant The Seeds At The Right Depth 

Maybe your seeds are not coming up because they are not planted at the correct depth. This is another case where things need to be just right for the seed to sprout a healthy plant.

Plant the seed too deeply or shallowly and it will not germinate at all, or take even longer than normal.  

Plant your pepper seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Seeds planted within this range will have the best chance for successful germination.  

Some Seeds Just Don’t Germinate 

With any type of seed, there are some that just don’t sprout. No matter what you try or if conditions are perfect, or even if your seeds are brand new. Sometimes, they just don’t sprout.  

And the longer you store the seeds the less likely they will be to germinate. If you are using seeds you have leftover from a few years ago, the germination rate is going to be much lower than if you bought a brand new packet of seeds.

The germination rate is the percentage of seeds that sprouted from what was planted.  

This doesn’t mean you automatically need to toss the seeds you have sitting around but do realize, the longer they sit the less viable they become.  

They Need More Time 

Having patience is hard for just about everyone, especially when you are excited to see little seedlings make their way out of the ground. Growing peppers from seeds take some time.  

The time it takes for pepper seeds to germinate is highly dependent on the type of pepper. On average, it takes anywhere from eight days to three weeks for seeds to germinate.

Hotter peppers tend to take longer to sprout. The Carolina Reaper may take up to 20 or 30 days before you see anything poking up from the soil.  

Besides the variety of pepper, remember all of the points we discussed above, will also play a part in how long it takes for the pepper seed to sprout.  

Did you know ?
Pepper seeds are edible, they are not toxic but you may still want to remove them before eating.

Do Pepper Seeds Need Light To Germinate? 

We have talked a lot about heat and water, but we haven’t mentioned lights. You might be wondering if that is part of your problem. Have you asked yourself if your seeds are getting enough light to germinate? 

Well actually, pepper seeds don’t really need light to germinate. They can sprout in light or dark conditions.

Light doesn’t become important until after you have the tiny plants going.

Temperature is far more important for these seeds than having light. They need to be constantly sitting in that 85 to 90-degree range. Only after germination will you have to worry about providing the right amount of light.  

When should you start germinating pepper seeds? 

Peppers plants do best when started indoors because they do require that constant warm temperature.

This is especially true in places where weather conditions are much cooler. In these places, peppers cannot be planted in the ground, if you want to have them produced before a fall frost hits.

Think about those germination times we talked about earlier. Then add on time for the plant to grow to where reaches maturity to produce a flower, then a pepper. They’re often just isn’t enough time in the growing season. 

Planting indoors fixes that problem and extends the growing season. Plant pepper seeds approximately eight weeks before the last spring frost date.

For most peppers, this will be enough time for the seed to sprout and the plant to grow large enough to withstand a transplanting.  

Tips For How To Germinate Pepper Seeds Fast 

For some of you, the multi-week germination timetable is just too long. There are a few ways you can speed up the process a little.  

1. Soak pepper seeds in water.

Many growers soak their pepper seeds before planting as a way to speed up the process. This is said to give the seeds a head start as they need to absorb so much water before they germinate.

This is a far more concentrated way to get them the water they need than to put them in soil and allow the seeds to soak up smaller amounts of water more slowly.  

Soak your pepper seeds for one to two days, but don’t exceed that as longer periods will lead to rotting seeds. 

2. Zippered plastic bag

You can also try a second method that sees you wrapping the seeds on a damp paper towel and sticking them in a plastic baggie. Seal the bag and leave it on a table or the counter in the sun for a few days.

This gives the seed both warmth and water. You may need to add more water to the paper towel throughout the process, so keep an eye on it. 

How to  Germinate Pepper Seeds Fast
Germinate pepper seeds using Zippered Plastic Bag

3. Using Gelatin Cup 

A third method is very similar to the bag method but involves a small cup. Take a small gelatin cup, about 2.5 ounces and add a piece of a damp paper towel to the bottom of the cup.

Place your seeds on the paper towel and put the lid on the cup. Again, you will place this in a warm spot in the ideal temperature range. Be sure to check the cup to make sure it has enough moisture. 

If you aren’t interested in trying any of these methods and want to directly sow your seeds in a starting mix.

The best things to speed up germination are making sure those temperatures are in the ideal range and check the soil to make sure it is damp. Providing the best conditions possible will give you results much faster.  

Try each of these methods and see what works best for you, but we don’t recommend trying all your seeds at once with only one method. It’s a don’t put all your eggs in one basket type situation.

Try a few pepper seeds using the baggie method, then put some others in the cup.

Experimenting on your own will help you decide what works best for you and your seeds.  This will ensure, you don’t lose all of your seeds if something doesn’t work out with one method.  

How To Germinate Pepper Seeds Fast


There are many variables when it comes to growing plants from seeds and pepper plants often present their own challenges. It often feels like a case of trial and error in order to learn what works and what doesn’t when you plant peppers, but with a little work and some research, you will be well on your way to getting those gorgeous peppers you are dreaming of.