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A Complete Guide to Growing Peppers from Seed in Cool Climates

Growing Peppers

Peppers are a staple in many meals, and can be expensive to buy in the store. These are great reasons to grow peppers from seed in your garden or in a pot on your deck! In my experience, I have found pepper plants germinate and grow easily. Growing peppers in the zone 3 climate does, however, come with a few challenges.

King of the North pepper plant in a garden in Zone 3 Calgary Alberta
Beautiful King of the North Peppers grown in my unheated greenhouse in zone 3

Common Problems with Growing Peppers

Firstly, be forewarned that aphids may just show up on your pepper plants. For this reason, you may want grow them in an area away from your other plants. If you plan to grow peppers you may want to stock up on Safer's Soap or neem oil to treat aphids just in case.

Most bell peppers, especially red, yellow, and orange ones, generally require a relatively long growing season. Coloured peppers are most often green prior to turning red, orange or yellow - making it easier to grow green peppers than the other colors. This is because you are not needing white as much time to fully ripen. It is not impossible to grow coloured bell peppers in zone 3, but it can be a challenge. You are particularly reliant on how warm your season ends up being. You will want to look for the warmest area you have available for growing peppers. A greenhouse is ideal, but it is certainly possible to grow them outdoors.

If you are a beginner gardener, I suggest starting with easy to grow veggies. But if you are looking for a bit more of a challenge, definitely try growing peppers from seed. Try starting out with hot pepper varieties such as chilies or jalapeños and move to bell peppers from there. Try these following tips to help you succeed!

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Pepper Varieties to Grow in Cool Climates

When selecting pepper seeds to grow, look for varieties that have the fewest days to maturity. King of the North is a popular option for zone 3, with just 70 days to maturity. (Keep in mind that the listed "days to maturity" sometimes count from the time you transplant your seedling outdoors, not from the suggested time to start the seeds indoors. This number can be deceiving if you are not careful.) Other varieties include Jalapenos, Anaheim and California Wonder.

When to Plant Pepper Seeds Indoors

In order to successfully grow peppers from seed in cool climates it is necessary to seed your peppers indoors anywhere from the end of January to February 21st. Some choose to start their hot peppers a few weeks before the bell peppers. I personally have much more success growing hot peppers than maturing bell peppers and start mine at the same time.

How to Grow Peppers from Seeds

Plant pepper seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in a seed starting soil mix. Place in a warm area. Seeds should germinate in 10 - 21 days. Peppe