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It’s no surprise that the cost of seed packets and seedlings continues to rise annually. This expense can quickly add up, especially for those with extensive gardens to tend. This holds particularly true for pepper plants. Not only can they be relatively expensive to procure in the early spring, but it can also be challenging to locate the specific varieties you hold dear.
This is precisely where the practice of saving seeds from your preferred and most productive pepper plants can prove to be a valuable lifesaver!
Be it the beloved jalapeno, the spicy cayenne, or the delicious green, red, or yellow bell pepper, preserving seeds from the finest specimens of your robust plants will yield seeds endowed with a multitude of inherent benefits.
Robust, thriving plants yield high-quality seed stock. When handled correctly during preservation, these seeds exhibit superior germination and growth rates, resulting in plants with improved genetic potential for producing increasingly superior fruit.
In fact, saving seeds from peppers is one of the simplest gardening tasks. However, the key to success lies in understanding which pepper varieties are suitable for seed saving, and which are not!
How To Save Seeds From Peppers – The Simple Steps To Success
Types Of Pepper Plants
Similar to tomato plants, peppers are available in both hybrid and open-pollinated varieties. To effectively save pepper seeds, it’s crucial to exclusively preserve seeds from open-pollinated types.
Refrain from utilizing peppers bought at the grocery store for seed saving. Not only might they come from a hybrid fruit that won’t yield identical peppers, but they could also have been treated with chemicals or seed inhibitors.
Hybrid varieties are created by combining two or more different varieties to create a brand-new pepper plant. The seeds of these plants will produce viable seeds. However, the seeds will not be an exact copy of the plant you grew.
Instead, the seeds will end up being a variation of one of the two plants used to create the plant. In some cases, it can even produce a new pepper plant – and one that may not even bear fruit. Saving seeds from a hybrid plant is basically like playing a guessing game with the end result usually being an undesirable pepper plant.
Open-pollinated varieties (heirloom plants) on the other hand are perfect for saving seeds. The seeds of these plants will create exact copies of the plant you get the pepper from and will produce the same peppers.
In addition to saving seeds from plants you grow, you can also save seeds from other gardener plants or even organic farms that are growing open-pollinated plants in your area. But it’s best to avoid saving seeds from peppers from grocery stores.
Store peppers are often from hybrid plants that will not produce the same plant. In addition, even if they are open-pollinated peppers, they have often been sprayed with chemicals that can affect germination and seed health.
Identifying The Plant Type
How can you distinguish between a hybrid and an open-pollinated pepper plant? The most reliable method is to refer to the seed packet or information provided on the transplant card.
If this information isn’t explicitly stated on the packet, you may observe the letter “F” followed by a number, indicating a hybrid. For instance, Merlot F1 denotes a hybrid pepper plant engineered for exceptional sweetness and high yield. The presence of the “F” designates it as a hybrid, and it’s not suitable for seed preservation.
Conversely, any pepper plant labeled as an “heirloom” is an open-pollinated variety. An example would be the Emerald Giant, a pepper plant from which you can successfully save seeds to replicate the exact plant next year. (Affiliate Product Link sweet pepper seeds )
If you remain uncertain but have the name of the pepper variety you’re cultivating, a quick online search will provide you with the necessary information about its classification. Fortunately, there is a vast array of heirloom pepper varieties available for seed preservation.
Choosing The Best Pepper
To successfully save seeds, begin by carefully choosing the best peppers from your healthiest and most productive plant. Avoid selecting peppers from diseased or struggling plants, as their genetic traits tend to carry over, potentially resulting in another struggling plant.
Wait until the pepper is fully ripe before harvesting the seeds. It’s actually ideal to let the fruit soften slightly, indicating that the ripening process is complete. The pepper may even start to show slight wrinkles, which is perfectly normal.
Remember, when saving pepper seeds, always allow the pepper to fully ripen on the plant. This ensures the seeds mature and reach their maximum potential. Additionally, if you’re harvesting multiple varieties, be sure to label each pepper accordingly. While it may sound simple, it’s surprisingly easy to mix up the seeds without proper labeling!
Removing The Seeds
Next, proceed to extract the seeds. Begin by thoroughly washing and drying your pepper plant before making any cuts. If you’re working with hot peppers, it’s advisable to wear gloves to shield your hands, as the heat can be transferred easily.
Begin by using a sharp knife to remove the bottom portion of the pepper. You can expedite the seed removal process by gently rolling the pepper on a cutting board or between your hands to help loosen the seeds. Once most of the seeds are out, slice the pepper in half and eliminate any remaining seeds.
Spread the seeds on a paper towel placed on a smooth, dry surface. Discard any discolored or damaged seeds, and arrange the rest in a single layer for even and prompt drying. Position the seeds in a dry area away from direct sunlight.
It may take up to a week for the seeds to thoroughly dry. Gently tossing them from time to time can ensure all sides dry uniformly.
After a week, check one seed for dryness by breaking it in half. If it snaps easily, then the seeds are completely dried and ready for storage. If it bends, the seeds require a bit more time to dry. One thing is certain – allowing the seeds to thoroughly dry before storing them will help maintain their viability!