Starting to Get Chilli!

Dear Martin

I hope you can help.

I am a previous customer of Harrod's and I am having problems germinating my chilli seeds this season.

I'm a new greenhouse gardner and cheated by buying ready grown plants last year and enjoyed long and satisfying crops, but this year I have started from scratch.

I have planted my seeds 2 weeks ago, but as of yet, have no germination in the greenhouse.

I was wondering if you would suggest using a heat mat to spur them on at this time of year, as I have heard that hot pepper seeds need a little help in our climate.

Thanks for your time, 


Dear Stuart

Many thanks for both your valued custom and your recent message regarding the best way to germinate chilli pepper seeds.

Peppers really need the extra heat provided by a propagator and to a lesser extent a heat mat, soil warming cables or warming pads to germinate successfully at this time of year. A propagator is generally better as the lid or cover helps keep the whole atmosphere humid, warm and moist whilst heat mats and cables, although providing invaluable bottom heat, do not influence the general environment in the same way.
You’ll need to provide the following conditions for germinating and growing pepper seeds;
• A minimum temperature of 18°C. Between this figure and 21 or 22 °C is usually adequate

• Once the seeds have germinated, aim to provide a daytime temperature in the region of 18°C and don’t go any lower than 16°C at night

• Aim to plant out in early summer after hardening off or transplant into greenhouse grow-bags or borders when ready
You may well find that these temperatures – or at least something very close – can be achieved with a heat mat, but it’s very likely you’ll need to heat the greenhouse as well. Placing a propagation thermometer in the soil of the seed tray or pots you have sown the seed into will tell you the all-important temperature of the compost. Probably the best solution is to go for a thermostatically heated propagator – the Vitopod and the Jumbo Propagator both fit the bill – but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, then the heat mats should certainly shown an improvement in the germination rate.

I hope this information is of help; if you’ve any further questions or queries please don’t hesitate to contact me and the best of luck with your gardening this year!