Growing plants from the produce you purchase at your local grocery store is a great way to save some money, but unfortunately, not all store produce produces fruit-yielding plants. So what about peppers? Can you grow store-bought pepper seeds at home?
You can grow store-bought pepper seeds. However, there is a decreased chance of the seeds sprouting due to their genetic makeup and the peppers being irritated to kill food-borne pathogens. Still, some seeds are able to sprout, and the seeds are free if you have already bought peppers for eating.
In the rest of this article, I will discuss if you can grow peppers from the produce you purchase at the store, how to grow it, and if the process is worth the effort. So if you want to learn more about growing peppers from store-bought produce, read on.
How To Grow Store Bought Peppers
Growing store-bought peppers isn’t any more difficult than planting regular pepper seeds. However, it’s essential to understand that not every pepper will yield results. Much store-bought produce has been genetically modified, making it difficult to grow from their seeds.
However, some peppers will sprout just fine, and it’s advantageous to cut down on waste and grow something from your usually useless pepper seeds.
Select the Best Store Bought Pepper
First, you will need to select a pepper from your grocery store. You can also use any pepper you have sitting in the fridge you need to use up. However, there are a few factors you will want to consider to increase your pepper plants’ chance of growth.
How to select a good store-bought pepper for growing:
- Choose a pepper that isn’t a hybrid. Nowadays, many of the produce we consume are hybrids. Unfortunately, hybrid seeds struggle to regrow; if they do, they don’t grow precisely like the pepper they are grown from. Some hybrid seeds will never grow.
- Select a ripe pepper and seeds that are ready. When you cut it open, you can tell pepper seeds are ready to harvest. The seeds should be a whitish cream color. If the seeds are darker or you find mold, the seeds are no good and need to be thrown out.
- Pick a type of pepper you like. You can plant all types of peppers, from spicy Jalapenos to mild bell peppers.
Once you have your pepper, it’s time to wait. Generally, you will want to give the pepper time to mature more and ensure the seeds are perfect for harvesting.
Harvest the Pepper Seeds
Next, you will need to harvest the seeds of the pepper. However, it’s essential to ensure the pepper is fully ripe and the seeds ready for removal. You will also need to be careful not to let the seeds sit too long, which can lead to rotting.
What you will need:
- A ripe pepper.
- Gloves or a spoon (gloves are great if you’re working with spicy peppers).
- A paper towel-lined bowl or plate to catch the seeds.
How to harvest store-bought pepper seeds:
- Check that your pepper is ripe. The peppers’ skin should feel a little leathery instead of crisp. Additionally, the skin should have started to wrinkle slightly. A color change should also have happened for most pepper types.
- Cut the peppers and examine the seeds. The seeds should be cream or white. No discoloration or signs of mold should be present. Some of the seeds should fall out without prompting.
- Open the peppers up and scrape the seeds from the fruit. You can easily remove the seeds from the pepper by tapping it on the plate or bowl. Scraping the seeds with a spoon or your fingers can also easily dislodge them.
Once you have removed all the seeds, they are ready to be stored or prepared for sprouting. If you are more of a visual learner, MIGardener has a great video on how to remove your pepper seeds for planting. They do a great job walking you through the process and explaining why they are doing each step.
Prepare the Pepper Seeds for Planting or Storage
Once you have removed your seeds from the pepper, it’s time to prepare them for planting or storage. Either way, you must first allow the seeds to dry out. Drying seeds is easily done by allowing the peppers to sit on a paper towel for a few days.
Once the pepper seeds have dried, they can begin to germinate or be put away for later use. Typically pepper seeds can last up to two years in storage.
So how do you prepare store-bought pepper seeds to be stored?
How to prepare store-bought pepper seeds for storage:
- Ensure the seeds are thoroughly dried.
- Store the seeds in a container like a glass jar or paper sack.
- Place a pack of silica gel to keep moisture away from the seeds.
- Label the jar so you know what seeds they are later.
As you can see, the seed prep process is straightforward. So once your seeds have been dried, you can prepare them for germination or store them.
Germinate the Pepper Seeds
After your seeds have been sufficiently dried, it’s time to sprout them. The best way to sprout pepper seeds is by placing them on a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. This bag will need to be placed somewhere that is warm and receives sunlight.
The best way to ensure the bag gets enough heat and light is to tape it to a window in your home. However, a window will be too cold for the plants to sprout if you live somewhere cooler.
Typically it will take around 14 days for your peppers to germinate and a week or so before the little plants are ready to be planted. So when you notice tiny root systems forming, your sprouts are near ready for planting.
Plant the Sprouted Pepper Seeds
Once your seeds have sufficiently sprouted, it’s time to plant them. You can plant the tiny sprouts in a small pot or specialized sprout growing container. Your tiny new sprouts will need quality soil and a container with good drainage for them to grow correctly.
What you will need:
- Quality potting mix
- A sprout container
If you don’t already have a suitable container for your new pepper sprouts, I suggest getting starting trays. These trays are fantastic because they are specially designed for seedlings and make the plants easy to transplant later. In addition, starter trays work well on a heat mat or under a grow light.
How to plant your sprouted pepper seeds:
- Fill your selected container with quality soil.
- Dampen the soil.
- Plant the sprouts ¼ inch (6 mm) deep in the potting mix.
- Loosely pack the soil around the plants.
- Place the seedlings somewhere warm that receives sunlight.
- Wait until it’s time to transplant.
Providing good lighting is particularly important for growing pepper plants. You can provide adequate light by placing the plants near a window, on a growing mat, or by providing a grow light.
Transplant the Pepper Plants
After about three weeks of growing, your pepper plants should be ready for transplanting. Generally, the plants will have a few leaves and will start to look a little lanky. Again, after the 3-week mark, your pepper plants will need prompt transplanting.
- Thoroughly water your plant’s soil before transplanting.
- Dig a hole that can easily fit your pepper plants’ root balls.
- Remove your peppers carefully from their container without damaging the root ball.
- Plant the seedlings ¼ inch (6 mm) deep in the new soil.
Tips for transplanting your new pepper plants:
- Use quality soil that is rich in nutrients.
- Ensure your planting location is ideal for pepper plants.
- Soak the seedlings once replanted.
- Keep your plants safe.
Transplanting can be stressful for new plants, so it’s important to watch them for signs of stress. Additionally, you will want to keep a close eye on the weather in case of a cold front. You must do your best to insulate your new pepper plants from frosty temperatures and keep bugs from harming them.
Are Store Bought Pepper Seeds Worth Planting?
Planting your store-bought pepper seeds isn’t too difficult, but success can be tricky if you don’t choose the right type of pepper. So is planting store-bought pepper seeds worth it?
Though store-bought pepper seeds can be challenging to grow, they are undoubtedly worth planting if you are already purchasing peppers. The seeds are practically free, and you can still eat the pepper. Utilizing store-bought seeds is a great way to reduce waste and use all plant parts.
Plus, planting store-bought pepper seeds can be a fun activity that can be used to teach children how to grow plants.
You can grow a pepper plant from store-bought seeds. However, some types of grocery store peppers will be more challenging to grow than others. For example, hybrid seeds or plants that have been irritated to kill food-borne pathogens don’t grow well. Many hybrids grow oddly or not at all, and irritated pepper seeds often don’t grow.