Peppers do not like cold weather. As a result, most gardeners have to wait to plant pepper seeds until the winter weather is almost gone. It can be tricky to know when to plant pepper seeds, as it depends on your specific location.
To make things a bit easier, I’ve created a pepper planting table that shows when to plant pepper seeds indoors for each hardiness zone (excluding those that are too cold for peppers). It also shows the last average frost date (32°F overnight temperature).
Keep in mind:
- Frost dates are not guaranteed, just estimates
- Always check your local weather each year
- Transplant peppers outdoors only after nighttime temperatures are above 55°F
|Hardiness Zone||Last Frost Date||When To Plant Pepper Seeds Indoors|
|3||June 3 – June 13||April 22 – May 2*|
|4||May 29 – June 10||April 17 – April 29*|
|5||May 16 – May 30||April 4 – April 18*|
|6||April 26 – May 8||March 15 – March 27|
|7||April 4 – April 15||Feb. 21 – March 4|
|8||March 3 – March 22||Jan. 20 – Feb. 8|
|9||Feb. 8 – Feb. 22||December 28 – January 11|
*Cold climate growers may need to plant seeds earlier than these suggestions, keeping the plants indoors longer to extend the growing season. Check your first fall frost date to make sure you give the plants enough time to produce!
When To Plant Pepper Seeds (Video):
As you can see, the colder your climate, the later you should wait to begin planting seeds indoors. In extremely cold climates, you may choose to plant a bit earlier the extend the growing season a few extra weeks.
Check your specific location’s last frost date here.
We have experimented with planting peppers early, but we have found it is best to keep them indoors for as short a time as is truly necessary.
However, planting early can sometimes be helpful, especially for superhot pepper varieties that take a long time to ripen fruits. Just be sure you have the indoor space and a good grow light for the plants.
When To Transplant Peppers Outside
Generally speaking, pepper seeds should be planted indoors about 8 weeks before transplanting outdoors. However, our recommended sowing dates are about 6 weeks before the average last frost date.
This is because most peppers should only be moved outdoors when the nighttime temperatures are consistently above 55°F. The last frost date is usually a few weeks before this occurs.
After 6-8 weeks of growth indoors, pepper plants should be ready to move into their final location. This could be either a large container or into a raised bed or garden plot.
Learn more about transplanting peppers here.
Why Does Last Frost Date Matter?
The last frost date is an average value. It should not be considered a guarantee. Some years, the last frost will be much later, and others will be earlier.
Frost date is important because peppers are not cold-hardy. In other words, freezing temperatures will kill most pepper plants.
Peppers thrive in temperatures between 70°F – 85°F. Anything below 55°F can cause stress to your plants. For this reason, we recommend waiting a couple weeks after your last frost date to transplant peppers permanently outdoors.
When Should I Plant Hot Peppers?
Hot peppers usually require a longer growing period than sweet varieties. These include habaneros, ghost peppers, scotch bonnets and many others.
For best results, plant hot pepper seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before your location’s last frost date. This will give the plants a head start while the outdoor temperatures rise.
Once the overnight temperatures rise to above 55°F, you can safely transition your hot pepper plants outdoors for the growing season.
How To Protect Peppers In Cold Weather
Sometimes, the weather just doesn’t cooperate. Here in New England, we have seen full on frosts happen in June! When your pepper plants are already outside and you are expecting cold weather, here is what you can do.
In cold weather, protect pepper plants by covering with garden fabric or plastic bags. This will insulate the plant during the cold, protecting from damage. You can also place mulch around the plant’s stem to help protect the root system.
I hope this article is useful for choosing when to plant your peppers. Timing is important to get the most out of your pepper plants, so be sure to experiment with what works best for your climate!
Friday 2nd of June 2023
I live in VA Zone 7b - can I plant pepper seeds outside now, in June? Thanks
Sunday 4th of June 2023
You can try, but it is unlikely you'll get much of a yield from seed. I would buy plants from the nursery at this point, even in a warmer zone like yours
Wednesday 24th of May 2023
i live in ohio. today is may 24. is it to late to grow fool ya peppers from seed? was going to buy the seed online. they said i would have them buy may 30th.
Thursday 25th of May 2023
You should be able to get a light harvest from seed still, given that "fooled ya" peppers take about 65 days from transplant. So from seed, it should take about 3.5-4 months to get a green pepper harvest. Next year you'll definitely want to start seeds much earlier!
Tuesday 7th of February 2023
Great reading. At 71, I last year for the 1st time I grew 3 bell peppers plants in 5 gal containers. The average yield was 5 - 6 peppers per plant. Not sure if that was a good or bad harvest, but the peppers were a beautifuI red. I had to cover them in tulle netting to deter the squirrels and birds from sealing the young peppers when they reached the size of a cherry tomato. This year I will continue with growing bell peppers in containers, but will also try planting a few bell peppers in the ground.
Do you have any articles on growing the Cape Gooseberry (Physalis Peruviana) ground cherry from seed in containers for those of us in zone 6, 6b?
Friday 12th of August 2022
I have read that when transplanting seedlings the seedling gets (shocked) from being moved and it takes a few weeks for them to fully recover and start taking off again. Because of this you start counting “days until harvest” from the time you transplant your seedlings rather than from germination of seeds. But with seeds sown directly in ground you start your “days until harvest” from seed germination. Have you found any truth in that? If it is so then there really is no point in starting seeds early because you will still have the same 100+ days until harvest for super hot peppers you are just starting that time with bigger plants vs newly germinated seeds.
Saturday 13th of August 2022
@peppergeek, Thanks so if I understand you correctly the 150+ days to harvest on ghost peppers begins the day you transplant your seedlings, not from the time you start your plants in doors. So for me in grow zone 4 I have a snow balls chance in a fry pan at getting a ripe harvest on ghost peppers.
Saturday 13th of August 2022
No, this isn't true. The days to harvest for peppers is almost always from the date of transplanting. They are considered a "transplanted crop," so the days to harvest are from that time, not from seeding. If the crop is a direct sowing crop, like corn, the days to harvest will usually be from the date of planting seeds rather than transplants. Don't direct sow superhots and expect them to grow faster than transplants!
Wednesday 20th of April 2022
This seems super-late! Almanac for zone5 says late Feb 20-Mar 6