Seed saving is a great activity to get children involved in and peppers are perfect for your first project. Whether you like green peppers, sweet peppers, or hot peppers, there are many pepper types to choose from.
If you are an organic gardener, you may be using heirloom pepper varieties already. If so, stop chucking out those seeds and start saving them.
Many pepper seeds can come from a single, individual fruit. Even if you just start out with the seeds from one original pepper, that might be all you will need to grow beautiful peppers for years and years.
In this article, I discuss how to save seeds from peppers, as well as the benefits of doing so. You’ll be able to have tasty peppers every year from just one bag of seeds.
- Related Articles: Complete Guide to Seed Saving
Overview of Saving Pepper Seeds
Peppers are self pollinating plants, although they do still need insect activity to shake the pollen loose. If you’re worried, then you can manually pollinate by gently flicking the flowers yourself to dislodge the pollen.
As they’re self pollinating it is possible to grow several pepper varieties in the same place without the risk of cross-pollination.
Peppers are perfect if you haven’t done any seed saving before, as you don’t have to do much other than dry them out properly.
How to Save Seeds From Peppers
Step 1 – Choose the Best Peppers for Their Seeds
When your peppers are ripe, identify the most vigorous plants in the garden that have grown well and have the tastiest peppers.
Leave some peppers on each plant when you start to pick them for testing and choosing. This allows you to have some peppers left on each plant when you identify the ones you want to keep for seeds.
To best save seeds successfully, you should use open pollinated or heritage variety peppers. They have the most viable seeds when trying to consistently grow the save pepper plants year after year.
Step 2 – Harvest the Pepper Seeds
Once you’ve selected which plants you want to keep the seeds from, leave the peppers on your chosen plant so the seeds can fully develop.
You can start to harvest the seeds when the pepper has started to wrinkle, which may take several weeks or months.
Step 3 – Remove Damaged Pepper Seeds
Remove the seeds from the pepper and discard any that are discolored or damaged.
Step 4 – Dry the Pepper Seeds
Place the seeds on a dry paper towel or some newspaper and put in a warm, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Turn them every couple of days to make sure they dry properly all over. When they are dried properly, the seeds will be brittle and will not dent if you bite them.
Step 5 – Store the Pepper Seeds
When your seeds are ready, it’s time to store them. Put your seeds into an envelope or paper bag, and store somewhere that’s dry and has a consistent cool temperature.
Be sure to label the bag too. I like to put the pepper variety and the current year on my seed bags.
You can use plastic bags if you like, but make sure your seeds are completely dry. If any condensation forms inside the bag, then take the seeds out and dry them for longer.
How Long Will My Pepper Seeds Last?
Seeds are best stored in a dry location with a consistent, cool temperature. Storing the seeds inside your house and away from heat sources is best.
If properly stored, pepper seeds will last for up to 5 years. The longer that the seeds are stored, the lower the germination rates are, so don’t store them too long before planting.
You can store them in paper or plastic bags, and they can be stored in the fridge. You can also store your bags in airtight containers, like Tupperware or glass jars.
If you are worried about moisture, you can use silica gel packets to absorb any excess moisture while they are being stored
Can I Save and Grow Hybrid Pepper Seeds?
The answer to this question is both yes and no. Saving seeds from hybrid peppers may be riskier, but it isn’t impossible.
Some have found that all the hybrid seeds die out, while others are able to grow successfully from them. The type of hybrid probably determines whether it will work or not.
There are lots of life hacks going around at the moment about growing vegetables from ones you’ve purchased at the grocery store. But the truth is they probably will still be hybrids, even if you buy organic. This means you may have difficulty growing decent peppers if you seed save from store bought ones.
Because F1 hybrids are a combination of two different genetic lines that have been manually cross pollinated, the seeds they produce will not be true to type. This means the peppers you grow may be different from plant to plant, they do not keep the desired traits of the parent plant.
If you continue to seed save from the subsequent hybrid plants, they may even be more inconsistent and continue to change through the generations. You may not get the same tasty and healthy plants.
If you are planning on seed saving, it’s always best to go for open pollinated or heirloom seeds. The seeds they produce will pollinate naturally and will always be consistent like the parent plant.
If you do fancy having a go growing from hybrid seeds, then you should be aware that you won’t know what you will get until the plant fruits.
However, if you want the assurance that you’ll get a decent annual crop of peppers that produce reliable seeds, then stick to open pollinated and heirloom varieties.
- Related Article: Where to Buy Organic Seeds
Final Thoughts on How to Save Seeds From Peppers
Seeds saving is a great way to get peppers that will consistently do well in your climate. By saving the seeds from the strongest plants with the tastiest fruit, you ensure that these traits are passed on.
Open pollinated seeds are getting a lot easier to obtain, thanks to the internet. These are seeds grown and sold with the express purpose of enabling gardeners to save seeds and continue to grow from their own seeds.
These seed companies and farms are bucking the trend of single use products, by providing you with something that you probably won’t need to buy again.
Seed saving is a great communal activity, and you should look out for local seed swaps. If there isn’t one in your area, try starting one up in your community. You can also try online shops and communities like the Seed Savers Exchange.
Here are more articles on how to save seeds from other plants: