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Surface Sowing

Surface Sowing Technique - Easy way for Sprouting Rocoto Hot Pepper Seeds!
Ever plant some hard-to-sprout pepper seeds, and then wait, and wait, and wait, and start to wonder - "Did the seed rot? Did it never sprout? What exactly is going on under there?"

Well, wonder no more! The following advanced seed germination technique, which we highly recommend as the best way for sprouting C. pubescens like rocotos, gives you a bird's-eye view on all of the action!

How to Do It:
First, take your seed starting pot, and fill it to about 1/2" below the top edge of the pot with already-moistened fine seed starting or light potting soil.

Next, using a small wooden dowel or similar object, make a few very slight indentations into the soil, each a bit wider than a seed, and evenly spaced out.

Now place one seed in each slight indentation, pressing very lightly on the seed so that the bottom of the seed is against wet soil, but not hard enough to push the seed under the soil.

Next, using a very fine mist, or use just the wet tip of your finger to drip a couple of drops of water on each, get each of the seeds wet.

Now, cover the top of the pot with Saran wrap or similar plastic wrap, to hold in the moisture and humidity (you will notice some condensation on the underside of the plastic wrap after a while if this is done properly)

Keep a close eye on your seeds, and very carefully add a little water as needed (again using a very fine mist or your fingertip), to keep the soil, and most importantly, the seeds, moist.

Using this method, even with some of the rarer C. pubescens varieties, you may see the first tiny white radicles starting to sprout from some of your seeds within as little as 5 to 6 days!

Once the radicles start to grow, you should place a tiny bit of moist potting soil, a tiny bit of bark, or something similar on top of the seed coat to hold it down. The reason for this is that one of the main risks of using this advanced technique is sometimes getting seedlings stuck in their seed coat, doing this will help the little seedling extract themselves. You should also scoot a little bit of moist soil over the end of the radical, to help what will become the root of your seedling get itself anchored into the soil.

One you start to see tiny leaves emerge from your new seedlings, you can then remove the plastic wrap. That's it!

Advantages / When To Use:
The beauty of this technique is it allows you a glimpse at mother nature in action! You can also see exactly what is going on - If a seed rots, or never sprouts, you can see it, no more guessing at what's going on under the soil!

It also produces fast results! With almost all of the C. pubescens we tried, including some rare ones from a variety of Central and South American countries, we were able to see the first radicles sprouting within just 6 days!

This technique works best for C. pubescens varieties (such as rocotos), although it can be used with other kinds of peppers as well. If you use it with other pepper species, also note that the lighter seeds may make seedlings getting stuck in a seed coat more of an issue.

Extra Tip:

For the best germination results we have seen so far with rocotos, try combining the Tea Soak Pre-Treatment Tip with surface sowing! Using this combination, we were actually able to achieve 100% germination with several different kinds of rotocos!

For more advice of starting pepper seeds, see our Pepper Seed Starting Tips article.
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