Chili flakes can bring a lot of flavor and heat to your favorite foods. It’s no wonder they get tossed on pizza, added to stir-fries, mixed into curry, and mixed into BBQ sauce.
Good chili flakes are one of the most versatile spices, but are they also a hidden garden resource? After all, chili flakes look like chili seeds mixed with bits of dried pepper, right?
Sadly for gardening enthusiasts, you probably can’t toss some of your favorite chili flakes into a pot and hope they’ll sprout. Most chili flakes are more heavily processed than plain seeds, and the processing usually kills the seed. Many are heated, and it’s common for flakes to get chopped up, which leaves some seeds broken and unviable.
All hope is not lost! Just because you can’t turn your chili flakes into viable seeds for planting doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own chilis at home. You need to look for a different source of seeds to help you get started.
Here’s what you need to know about chili flakes, chili seeds, and how to grow your own hot peppers at home.
The Difference Between Dried Chilis And Chili Flakes
The first thing you need to know about growing chilis at home is the difference between chili flakes and seeks. Flakes are a more processed product, usually a combination of dried chili and their seeds, and may have been heated or chopped too fine to be viable for planting.
You also don’t know what chilis contributed to your chili flakes. There are a lot of varieties of hot peppers that can be effectively dried, flaked, and added to a spice mix. Any spicy pepper you can think of might be in there, though habaneros and spicier peppers are usually labeled, so consumers know what they’re getting.
If you want whole seeds and to know what kind of pepper you’re getting, you’re better off buying from a local nursery or seed saving from fresh peppers.
However, there is another dried option you can buy from the grocery store. If your grocery store sells bags of dried peppers, those will likely be full of viable seeds. The drying process usually doesn’t damage the seeds; it keeps them dormant.
So, if you would rather get seeds from the peppers you eat, save a few of the seeds the next time you use dried peppers in a recipe. You’ll likely get a similar pepper to the one you just ate, so you’ll know what to expect if you decide to dry part of your harvest!
Can You Grow Chilis From Fresh Chili Pepper Seeds?
Yes! Fresh peppers can be one of the best sources of chili seeds because you have a good idea about the kind of pepper the seeds will produce.
While chili peppers are notorious for having varying tastes and spice levels, growing from a plant that’s produced successful peppers in the past is one of the better ways to improve the odds of a tasty harvest.
Plenty of gardeners don’t buy any pepper seeds after finding a few varieties they like, preferring to plant from fresh peppers out of their garden or seed saving through the winter to plant again in the spring.
Do You Need To Dry Fresh Chili Seeds Before Planting?
Nope! Drying is only necessary if you want to preserve your seeds for more than a day or so before planting them.
If you want to plant fresh seeds, you can take them directly from the pepper and then plant them in your prepared soil.
However, if you want to harvest seeds more than a day before planting, it’s good to wash and dry them to help prevent mold or fungal rot. You’ll protect more of your seeds and have plenty of seedlings for your next growing season.
You also should clean and dry seeds if you’re going to put them in a storage container. Make sure they are completely dry before storing them in airtight containers. Otherwise, the seeds will either rot or germinate and then rot in the container.
Neither scenario is ideal for gardeners. It’s better to leave your chili seeds out drying an extra day or two than to risk putting your seeds away too early.
How Long Does It Take For Chili Seeds To Sprout?
Chili seeds usually sprout relatively quickly, assuming they are viable. They should have sprouted within a few weeks, usually no more than 3 to 5, and are ready for their first transplant when they have two well-developed leaves.
If your seeds take more than five weeks to germinate, they might not be viable anymore. Check the soil for signs of mold or fungus before planting new seeds, and either dispose of it or add it to your compost if you see signs that the seeds might have rotted or been the victim of disease in the soil.
Do Chili Seeds Need Light To Germinate?
Yes. Like most garden plants, chili seeds need a good light source to germinate reliably.
In addition to having a good light source for at least 6-8 hours a day, chili seeds also need relatively warm soil and plenty of moisture to germinate successfully.
If you’re planting from seed, it’s best to start your chilis indoors, 6-8 weeks before you intend to plant them outside, or 80 days before you want to harvest indoor chilis. Aim to keep air temperature between 70-75 degrees while the chilis grow; that will help protect their flavor and ensure good growing speed.
Can You Grow Chilis Indoors?
Chili peppers usually do well growing indoors, as long as you give them the right resources to grow.
That means that indoor chilis need a little more attention than outdoor plants in most cases. You’ll want to provide between 8-12 hours of growing light once the plants have at least two leaves and plenty of fertilizer and compost for a successful growing season.
Most importantly, ensure your chilis get plenty of water and are kept in a well-drained container to maintain healthy conditions.
You’ll also want to protect your chili’s growing temperature. Most chili plants do best between 70-80 degrees, and growth slows down below 65 degrees.
What Size Pots Do Chili Peppers Need?
If you’re going to grow chili peppers in containers, you’ll need several containers for different phases of their life.
You’ll want to have a sprouting pot or container for the first few weeks after you plant the seeds. These are good until the peppers have two fully formed leaves, at which point you should gently transplant them into larger 3″ pots.
Larger pots provide more room for healthy root development and better access to nutrition and water to support growth.
Once the plants have two equally tall stems or their single stem splits and has its own leaves, it’s time to move up another pot size. This time, you’ll want to transplant into 6-inch pots or out into your garden.
When your pepper plant outgrows its 6-inch pot is a little less certain. Ideally, you should transplant 2-4 weeks after the last transplant, after the pepper plant has grown several inches, but before its growth slows because of the smaller pot.
For its final pot, look for a container at least 12 inches wide and deep. It should hold at least 3 gallons of soil in addition to the plant and have plenty of drainage to support good root health.
Most pepper plants won’t outgrow a 12-inch pot, especially if it holds 3-5 gallons of soil, even if they are overwintered for several years and allowed to continue growing and producing fruit. However, they may still need to be transplanted to prevent the plants from getting root-bound. Untangle and trim the roots as needed, and provide your mature peppers with fresh soil to keep them healthy.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
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