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How To Grow Black Pepper from Seeds : Growing Peppercorns at Home

Find details on growing black pepper from seeds at home, as I am doing in Sydney, Australia. To grow peppercorns (Piper nigrum, Kali Mirch) from seeds might look difficult, but with the right conditions you can grow and harvest them at home. You may be harvesting black peppers in about 4 years after sowing the seeds.

The black pepper plant is a woody perennial flowering plant that will grow peppers year after year for 15 to 20 years.

How to grow black pepper plant from seed, showing peppercorn seeds
Peppercorn Plant Vine

Outside India, it is grown in Vietnam, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Brazil and all other tropical regions.

Peppercorn Growing Zone

The peppercorn plant is a tropical plant, native to southern India and grows well in warm and wet conditions with mild winters, similar to USDA Hardiness Zone 12. Having said this, it is mentioned that the peppercorn plants are very adaptive and can be grown anywhere with proper care. In Australia, it is grown in north Queensland, but I am trying to grow peppercorns in Sydney.

Growing Peppercorns at Home

Get the Right Seeds

The most commonly grown varieties of peppercorns are black, white, and green. The black peppercorns, known as Kali Mirch in India, that we buy from stores come from the Piper nigrum plant. If you try to grow a black pepper plant from a peppercorn seed from the grocery store, you will not succeed, because they have been dried and processed to prevent germination, so these are unlikely to sprout. However, you can try several seeds from store to germinate them, a few may grow if you are lucky.

You should buy high-quality peppercorn seeds for planting suitable for germination form a reputable seed store.

Grow peppercorn plant from   Seeds
Black pepper Seeds

Where to Plant and Grow

  1. Black Pepper plants need plenty of sunlight to grow successfully. Choose a place in warm, humid environment, ideally with temperatures between 24-29°C (75-85°F). If you do not have such a condition outside, then grow the plant indoors and provide required light conditions using LED grow lights or fluorescent lights.
  2. The plant stops growing below 18°C (65°F).
  3. Select a place where you have enough space for the peppercorn vine, it can grow to 4.6 m (15 ft) long.


Prepare the Seeds for Planting

To germinate the peppercorn seeds successfully, it is essential to prepare them before sowing for optimal germination. Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours to soften the outer shell. Discard any floating seed, these are not viable.

Planting the Black Pepper Seeds

Plant the seeds in seed raising tray or small pot, about 1 cm below the soil surface. Cover the pot with a transparent polythene sheet and keep it in a location with bright, indirect sunlight, in temperature between 24-29°C (75-85°F). Remove the sheet cover when the seeds begin to germinate.

You can keep the pot indoors and use a heated germination mat, if outside temperature is low.

Seed Germination

If you provide the needed warm and humid environment, then the seeds will germinate in about 30 days, depending on temperature and seed variety and its quality.

Black Pepper Seedlings from grocery store peppercorns
Black Pepper Seedlings

Transplant the Seedlings

Transplant the seedling into individual pots or suitable location in ground, when they grow 3-4 sets of leaves and the roots become stronger.

Caring For Black Pepper Plants

Growing Black Pepper Plant from a  seed
Black Pepper Plant

Soil

Peppercorn plants prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil. The soil should be water free-draining. Add lots of compost in the soil before transplanting. A good drainage is crucial, otherwise the plant can suffer from root rot.

Watering

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. In too much saturated soil, the plant may suffer.

Fertilizer

Fertilize the black pepper plant regularly with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer during the growing season. Instead of chemical fertilizer you can mix good quality compost in the soil. You can feed a liquid fertilizer once a month.

Trellis or Support

As peppercorn plants are long vines, so provide trellis or supporting stakes so they climb them naturally for support. You can allow the vine to climb on either on trees like mango tree, jackfruit tree, coconut tree etc., or on trellis, wood poles, brick walls, fencing, etc.

Pruning

Prune the vines to encourage branching and increase fruit production. Regular pruning also helps manage the size of the plant.

Maturity

The peppercorn is slow growing vine that take about 4 years to reach maturity and produce blooms and significant harvest.

Harvesting Peppercorns

Now the real question, how long will it take to grow peppercorns from seed. The peppercorn grown from seed will start to produce flowers and bear fruit after 4 years.

Peppercorns are ready for harvest when they turn red. Pick the berries individually or harvest entire clusters. Allow the harvested peppercorns to dry in the sun for a few days before storing them in a cool, dry place.

Growing Peppercorns in Pots

I am growing black peppers in pot in Australia. Following are the tips:

  1. You can grow peppercorn plant in a pot. You can grow peppercorns in pots for harvesting peppers or just because they look very beautiful with bright green leaves.
  2. Grow black peppers in a pot of at least 40 cm wide to allow the roots to grow we.
  3. Plant the peppercorn plant in nutrition rich free-draining soil.
  4. As the peppercorn plants thrive in warm, tropical conditions, place the pot in the warmest and brightest area of your garden. If you live in a region with cold winters, you can bring the pot indoors during winter and take it back outside in summer. Keep your potted black pepper plant indoors in a fright location, away from warm AC air drafts.
  5. Peppercorns do not tolerate frost. During cold weather, place the pot in full sun at temperature above 18°C (65°F) with 50% or greater humidity. If such growing conditions are not met outdoors, move the peppercorn plant indoors.


How to Grow black pepper from seeds youtube video