How to start Chiltepin seeds

I like to re-use the mushroom styrofoam containers from the grocery store.  Just poke holes in the bottom for drainage.  It can rest inside another container to keep from dirtying the counter or other indoor surface where the seeds are being housed in the winter-time

Next, fill the container with soil.  Currently I’m experimenting with a couple of soils.  Don’t use a peat-based soil, because it will inhibit seed germination due to the fact that peat is anti-microbial.  Have your dried peppers on hand.  Each tiny pepper houses about 20 seeds on average.  So in that bowl, you are looking at about 200 seeds!

I like to crush and sprinkle the seeds over the soil without worrying about the red skins.  It makes things pretty easy.  Just remember to wash your hands afterwards, or wear gloves.  Learned that the hard way!

The seeds can be sprinkled pretty densely.  After they germinate, I’ll show how to “prick” out each seedling and pot up separately.

Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil.  Water thoroughly.  Cover with plastic wrap.  I like to use a gallon sized baggie – the mushroom container fits perfectly inside.  Label the baggie and mark the date, so you can keep track of germination time.  Place in the warmest spot that you can find.  Some people use a sunny window or the top of a clothes dryer.  Wait patiently……

I started several containers of seeds on January 19th and 20th.  I’m trying a couple of ideas to see if there is any way to speed up germination.  I’ll post on that soon.

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8 Responses to How to start Chiltepin seeds

  1. ronny says:

    any update?

  2. Juan says:

    Would love to send you a photo of a flat of 72 chiltepin seedlings i have growing. i had 100% germination rate. I used those Jiffe GreenHouses you find at Walmart for about $6-$7 and put anywhere from 3-5 seeds per cell. I ended up using seeds from purchasing those small bags of dried chiltepin at my local market. (I didn’t have a choice. It was the quickest way for me to get some seeds.)

    • Jacqui says:

      Hi Juan, thanks, I would love for you to send me some photos! Sorry, it has been a busy spring for the garden and family stuff. I am sending you a direct email, and if you email me your photos, I will happily post them here on my website! PS – what is the name of your local market? Feel free to give them a shout out! :)

  3. Dave says:

    This year I finally had success germinating tepins. The method I used ncis almost identical to the one you described except I Didn’t cover them with plastic.

    However, The seedlings are very bunched up and will be challenging to separate. They are about 3″ tall with 3 sets of leaves at this point and look very healthy.

    Any advice on safely separating the plants for transplanting?



    • Jacqui says:

      Hi Dave, sorry I didn’t have access to my website for quite a while. I hope you figured out how to separate the seedlings. Let me know how it worked out!

  4. Martin says:

    Hi Jacqui: All my life I was told that chiltepin would only germinate as long as it was dropped by a bird (after being digested), and that it couldn’t be cultivated. Since you guys were able to do it, perhaps my info was wrong? Or perhaps the seeds that Dave germinated were actually the cultivar version called “Pequin” or “Piquin” pepper (similar look, but more elongated, instead of round and small)…?

    • Jacqui says:

      Hi Martin: we have had quite a bit of success with germinating the seeds. We have learned by trial and error that it is really related to the warmth of the soil. When I tried to sprout the seeds in the winter in my laundry room, I have had little success. As soon as the weather hits about 80 degrees, all of the seeds sprout. We are definitely growing Chiltepin, the small round ones. There is definitely confusion out there between the Chitepin and the Chili Pequin, which I believe are a little bit more pointed. Since peppers cross breed very easily, I think that is the difference in the shape. But otherwise, the germination should be similar.
      In nature, I think it is much more difficult. The Mockingbirds sure love them, and like to pick them off the plant. I guess that is why it is also known as the Bird Pepper.

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