Have you ever finished a jar of crushed red pepper flakes and wondered if you could plant the seeds to grow more peppers? This is a great question, and the answer is yes!
You can absolutely grow new red chili pepper plants from the seeds found in crushed red pepper flakes. With a few simple steps to prepare and plant the seeds, you can cultivate a bountiful crop of spicy peppers.
In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to successfully plant dried red pepper seeds. You’ll learn:
- How to isolate and prepare the seeds from red pepper flakes
- Step-by-step planting instructions
- Pepper variety and growing tips
- When and how to harvest homegrown peppers
In no time, you can go from empty
An Introduction to Red Pepper Flakes
Before planting, it helps to understand what exactly red pepper flakes are. These dried, crushed peppers add zing to pasta, pizza, soups, tacos, and more.
Red pepper flakes start as fresh red chili peppers. The most common types used include cayenne, serrano, and jalapeño peppers. They provide a range of spiciness, from 30,000 up to 50,000 Scoville heat units.
To make red pepper flakes, the peppers first get dried fully. Then they’re crushed into small flakes. The seeds mix in with the pepper pieces during this process.
The end result is flakes of dried pepper blend with seeds interspersed throughout. This makes red pepper flakes more challenging to sprout than seeds bought in tidy packets. But with some preparation, those seeds can take root and grow.
Can You Successfully Grow Red Pepper Flakes?
Red pepper flakes contain seeds, so in theory you can grow them into pepper plants. But it takes some extra steps compared to planting standard seeds.
You’ll need to isolate the seeds from the crushed pepper pieces as much as possible. Then properly prepare them by cleaning, drying and storing before planting.
Even if a few flakes get mixed into the soil, the seeds still have a chance to germinate. With care and a bit of luck, you can get red chili peppers sprouting within a few weeks.
Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Red Pepper Flakes
Follow these simple steps to try growing peppers from the seeds in red pepper flakes:
1. Fill Container with Potting Soil
Plant your red pepper seeds in a pot or container with drainage holes. Plastic pots work well. Fill your container nearly to the top with quality potting soil from a garden store. This prevents bugs that can come in lower quality dirt.
2. Sprinkle in Red Pepper Flakes
Scatter a spoonful or two of red pepper flakes over the soil. Try to spread them out evenly. The more you sprinkle, the more seeds will be present to potentially sprout.
3. Cover Seeds and Water
Cover the red pepper flakes with about 1/4 inch more potting soil. Gently water until the soil is damp but not soaked. Be careful not to wash away the flakes.
4. Place in Sunny Spot
Put your planted pepper flakes in a warm, sunny spot. Like a windowsill, patio or under a grow light. Peppers thrive with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
5. Keep Soil Moist
Check soil daily and water when the surface begins to dry out. Don’t over-saturate or seeds can rot. Consider using a spray bottle to gently mist.
6. Watch for Seedlings
In 1-3 weeks, seedlings may begin sprouting. Look for two first leaves, then the pepper’s signature lobed leaves will emerge. Thin to 1-2 plants.
7. Transplant Outdoors
When plants have 3-4 true leaves, transplant outdoors to a sunny spot after any chance of frost. Peppers grow best in warm weather around 75-90°F.
8. Harvest Peppers
Red chili peppers mature in 60-100 days. Harvest when fruits grow to about 2.5 inches and turn bright red. Cut peppers off carefully with scissors to avoid uprooting the shallow plants.
And that’s it! With attentive care and optimal conditions, you can potentially get a bounty of peppers from the seeds in red pepper flakes.
What’s the Best Pepper Variety to Grow?
The peppers used to make red pepper flakes vary in their heat levels and uses. What you grow depends on how you plan to use them:
- Hot varieties like cayenne or Thai chilies pack serious punch for spicy foods.
- Milder peppers like ancho or paprika are better for roasting, stuffing or making powders.
- Heirloom types offer unique flavors like smokiness, fruitiness or tang.
Mix up your plants for diverse flavors and
Can You Plant Store-Bought Pepper Seeds?
For the best chance of success, plant freshly harvested, ripe seeds right away. But you can still try planting store-bought pepper seeds.
Look for plump seeds from healthy, undamaged peppers. Remove any clinging flesh or coating. Then dry and store properly before planting.
Though older, store-bought seeds may have lower germination rates, many can still sprout with proper care. It never hurts to give them a try!
Caring for Red Chili Pepper Plants
Red chili pepper plants need:
- Full sun
- Consistent moisture
- Well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5-6.8
- Warm weather around 75-90°F
Use a balanced liquid fertilizer when plants begin flowering. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers that cause excessive leaf growth.
Adding mulch helps maintain even soil moisture and temperature. Stake or cage plants as fruits develop to avoid breaking branches.
Harvesting Red Chili Peppers
- Harvest peppers when they reach mature size and turn red, about 2-3 inches long.
- Use scissors to carefully snip peppers from vines to avoid uprooting the shallow plants.
- Leave the stems on and hang peppers to dry before grinding into flakes or powders.
- Wear gloves when handling super-hot peppers to avoid skin irritation.
Enjoy your homegrown red chili harvest fresh, or dry them into your own signature blend of spicy red pepper flakes!
The Takeaway: Grow Peppers from Pantry Spices
While it takes some work, you can cultivate new pepper plants from the seeds in crushed red pepper flakes and other dried peppers. With optimal growing conditions, the seeds can germinate and flourish.
Next time you cook with red pepper flakes, save a spoonful to try sprouting. You may wind up with vibrant plants yielding piles of peppers. Growing your own spices brings flavorful freshness to cooking!