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When To Plant Pepper Seeds (by Hardiness Zone)

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).

Pepper seedlings

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 ZoneLast Frost DateWhen To Plant Pepper Seeds Indoors
3June 3 – June 13April 22 – May 2*
4May 29 – June 10April 17 – April 29*
5May 16 – May 30April 4 – April 18*
6April 26 – May 8March 15 – March 27
7April 4 – April 15Feb. 21 – March 4
8March 3 – March 22Jan. 20 – Feb. 8
9Feb. 8 – Feb. 22December 28 – January 11
10-13No freezeAnytime

*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!

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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!

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Calvin Thumbnail


One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.


Sunday 6th of August 2023

100% newb question: when planting seeds indoors before the season, how many seeds do you place per individual cup?


Monday 7th of August 2023

We'll plant at least 2 per cell to make sure each pot/cell has a plant. If you have a ton of seeds, maybe plant 3, if you have limited quantities, you might want to plant just 1 seed per cell.


Tuesday 13th of June 2023

Interesting, but probably not applicable to anywhere.

In zone 10 here around Tokyo. Theoretically I could plant anytime, but we do have sometimes surprise snow as late as March here so I usually never put anything outside before April. Another interesting (maybe) fact about growing veggies in Asia in a sub-tropical climate is the moonsoon, aka rainy season. It starts in June, and usually lasts for about a month. LOTS of rain, and generally a temperature around 20-25°C (in central Japan) means a lot of growth, but also pests, root rot and sometimes strong wind that can easily drop a plant.

Happy gardening!


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!

Betty Mayberry

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?