Once the plant has broken through the soil, they then require bright light for growth.
Close examination of your plants at this stage can indicate how they are doing. The seed
leaves (cotyledons) that appear prior to the first true leaves should be a deep green color.
If for example, they are a yellowish hue, then this can indicate a lack of nitrogen in the
soil. At this stage you can slightly lower the temperature (70 o F/21 o C) of your heating mat
if required. Transfer the trays to an area where they will receive a lengthy spell of good
light e.g. window sills. Should the seedlings not obtain sufficient light, they will start to
grow tall and spindly as they grow towards the light. This will lead to a weaker and less
productive plant. If you choose a window sill as the location, keep a close eye on the plants
as small seedlings are very sensitive to strong sunlight. Alternatively you may wish to use
artificial light e.g. fluorescent tube lighting. If this is the case keep the light approximately
2-3 inches/5-8cm from the seedlings, taking care to adjust the height of the light as the
seedlings grow. As they do so, you may bring the light a little closer to the seedlings (1-1.5
inches/2-4cm) gradually reducing the distance as the seedlings grow.
Growing seedlings indoors acts an an ideal environment in many respects - with
perfect amounts of water and an ideal temperature, however this neglects many aspects of
the outdoors such as breeze and wind. Therefore as the seedlings grow, you may wish to
use a fan (at a very low setting) for a few minutes every day, to help circulate air in the
room and also to help strengthen the growing stems. Take care that this is a very gentle
air current such that the stems are not damaged or that it can pass drafts of cold air over
your plants. Alternatively, you can use the back of your hand to gently sway the tops of the
plants, to allow the stems to strengthen and be better able to support growing peppers.
Once the first true leaves appear you should fertilize the plant with a liquid plant
food, such as Miracle-Gro added at half strength. Whatever fertilizer you choose, try to
avoid one with a high nitrogen content, instead focusing on a high phosphorous and po-
tassium content. Nitrogen will lead to excessive leaf growth, giving a bushier plant with a
reduced yield of peppers. In general use the fertilizer sparingly (“if in doubt, go without”).
A worst-case scenario that can occur is a large plant developing which simply runs out of
time to produce mature peppers. If you fertilize, do so when there is plenty of light. Also
avoid fertilizing when you have overwatered your plants, allow them to dry out first before
When your seedlings have started to grow and have several sets of leaves, it is good
to separate and re-pot them into individual pots (if you have planted excess seeds, you
can then select the healthiest/strongest seedlings). If you have started with seed trays, you
should re-pot into a 3 inch/7cm pot. Fill the new pot with fresh compost and water lightly.
Make a hollow in the pot for the seedling. Remove the seedling from the tray or cell care-