All peppers are warm-weather loving plants. Sow seeds indoors 3/15-4/1 into good seed starting mix (we recommend Vermont Compost’s Fort Light). Ideal temperature for germination is 80-90° (use heating mat). Days to germination: 6-28. Once leaves appear, grow plants at 72°. Be sure seedlings have adequate light (a windowsill will not do for peppers) and keep plants from becoming pot-bound because this will permanently stunt plants. If seedlings are getting too big for their pot but the weather is still too cold outside, transplant them into bigger pots. Plant seedlings outside late May into fertile garden soil with lots of compost or decomposed manure. If your soil pH is greater than 7 (which is typical of clay soils in Southeast Michigan) add sulfur to acidify the soil before planting. Space plants 1 ½ - 2ft apart. If plants begin to flower when plants are less than 1ft tall, hand remove early flowers for 2 weeks until plants are bigger. Stake pepper plants if they begin to fall over.
For full flavor, harvest peppers when fully ripe (red). Peppers can also be harvested green but they won’t taste as good.
Peppers are primarily self-pollinating but insects will cause significant cross pollination between pepper varieties. To keep variety pure, cover plants with low tunnels (using thin row cover fabric) to exclude pollinators. Or, isolation distance: 300 ft. Always save seeds from the best plants. Save seeds from fully ripe peppers. Process hot pepper seeds outdoors wearing rubber gloves; rinse and dry seeds.