Peppers from Africa and Hawaii
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Edith
Posted on: January 17, 2001

I have received some pepper seeds supposedly from Africa. I have tried since day one to grow them, but am unable to. HELP!

Also, I have a brother that has recently sent me some Hawaiian red chili peppers (dried) to try to grow.

My question is: I am from deep south Texas (the south tip) and the winter here is rarely cold (except for this year), I can usually grow anything without a problem. I realize the soil is different here compared to Hawaii and Africa, but if others are able to grow some of these peppers (in Houston, Texas), what can I do to get at least a seedling?

There are, of course, many different peppers, including many types that are totally unrealted to the bell or chili Capsicum peppers. I mention that because there are several "peppers" grown in Africa that are important in food and medicine that are harder to germinate than the Capsicum peppers. The melagueta pepper is one example of an African peppers which even we have difficulty germinating.

Assuming that the two peppers you have are the Capsicum types, the most likely reason for the lack of success is poor viability. Often, we notice, that seeds collected from dried peppers bought on the spice trade do not germinate. That is likely because the seeds are improperly handled or stored, or because the seeds were immature when harvested or they are too old after too many years in storage or transport while in the spice trade.

If you sowed the seeds direct outdoors and the weather has been colder than usual, you may have had damping off disease which is caused by a fungus that grows in cool moist conditions.

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