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Problems with Propagation of Persnickety Peppers

 
gardener
Posts: 383
Location: Ontario - Gardening in zone 3b, 4b, or 6b, depending on the day
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I HATE starting pepper seeds. I never manage it.

This year, my mother planted a bunch of saved seeds from last year in little pots with seed starting mix. Only one type managed to grow ("stripey sweet bell"). The tomatos planted at the same time did great!

So i took saved seeds AND purchased seeds, and attempted to get them to start with paper towel and moisture in a warm spot. The chili peppers  (purchased seeds) started. Nothing else. I started some tomatos and ground cherries in the same container, and they did great!

So now I threw everything on a makeshift seed mat  (dog heated bed)- a few things SEEMED to start to sprout, so I planted them out, in pots on the seed warming mat. Nothing started - except a few more chili peppers. I figured the seeds were rotten/bad after 3 weeks of trying to start them.

So I started fresh with moisture, on the seed mat - three types of purchased seed, 5 types of self saved seed.  More than a week later - (2 weeks later?) still no signs of life.

What am I doing wrong?!
 
master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Peppers take forever to germinate.  I have mine in decent conditions and some still haven't sprouted after 25 days.  So you might be doing just fine
 
master steward
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Yup. It's waiting game.
 
gardener
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They are slow and it seems to me also very susceptible to adverse conditions.  So if the potting mix dries out, or they get too hot, or they get too cold, or they damp themselves out before the seedling gets above the soil, or they get eaten by tiny birds before you ever see them, or a house mouse grazes them flat, or or or or...

After years of failure I have finally managed to successfully start pepper seeds a couple of years running.  I do it the Joseph Stalin way: I overrun the enemy with an endless wave of cheap troops.  "Quantity has a quality all its own."  Instead of planting one or two seeds in every cell, I plant eight or ten.  Instead of just planting the three varieties I might want in a given year, I plant three similar types for each variety, for a total of nine sets.  And so forth.  

Basically I still get massive failures, whole sets of starts that never do anything or where just one seedling germinates.  But somehow this way I still end up with half a dozen pepper plants in my garden.
 
pollinator
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Alliteration absolutely approved!  And also- super relieved to know I'm not the only one.  I give the seed at least a month before passing judgement.  Sometimes I get an early popper at 2 weeks and I get my hopes up about the rest.  I'm about to mass germinate a bunch of varieties and hop I come out with a few dozen for planting!  Hang in there, one of em's gotta sprout one of these days!
 
pollinator
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Same here.  The tomato's I started have been re-potted 3 times and need to go into the garden ASAP.  The peppers I started at the same time have only recently popped out of the starting mix.  Only a handful made it that far out of many planted.  I will keep watering and so on, but I don't have high hopes for them, because I seem to loose one every day, I am down to three.  I resorted to picking up some peppers at Home Depot when I had to take my daughter to work a week ago or so.  I read they require a heat mat, which I don't have.  Peppers, lavender, and most of my other herbs didn't work for me this year.  I only got 2 watermelon and they haven't grown very much.  I will use them, but will direct sow probably this weekend since it has gotten hot.  I may throw some herb seeds in the herb garden just to see if maybe it was to cool for them as well. To be fair this is my first year starting seeds in pots.  Before I would direct sow, or buy veggies plants.  Please share if you discover the tried and true method for germination Peppers.  Good luck everyone, and happy gardening.
 
Catie George
gardener
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Very glad to hear I am not alone on this. A month to start is normal?! Wow.

I have been throwing a lot more troops- I mean seeds - at it this year than usual, determined to manage it ( I usually give up and buy transplants). I guess I will keep going, although my ability to focus is strained by trying to keep things moist and not rotting for a month.

I wonder if it is variety dependent/something that could be bred for? The chilis were so fast. I would cheerfully buy pepper seeds if they were marketed as "easy to start".
 
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