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I am trying to grow hot peppers seedling in 16 oz cups. I made the mistake (did I?) of putting 3-4 seedlings in each cup, mainly because I sprouted too many seeds. In a few cups I have 2 seedlings growing about 1" tall, in others I have 3. My plan was to transplant these to larger pots once they grow a few inches.

What should I do about multiple seedlings spaced close together, as in less than an inch apart?

I am unsure if I should leave them alone or do something like cut the ones that are anything less than the tallest in each cup, which would mean that the tallest one survives and the rest decompose... Separating the seedlings would lead to many more plants than I can probably afford in terms of space...

Any opinion would be appreciated!

Oh these are hot peppers: Thai dragon hybrid, Another Thai variation, habanero, and I think Guntur sannam chilies.

  • This related question may offer some additional assistance. While it's not specifically about peppers, it does discuss the issue of dealing with seedlings that are very close together. – Sue May 3 '15 at 17:10
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Strictly speaking, you have already given the answer to your question:

Separating the seedlings would lead to many more plants than I can probably afford in terms of space...

In that light, the answer would be to kill all but the strongest seedling of each cup.

If have enough space to accomodate some more peppers, you could carefully try to separate the seedlings after they have grown one or two pairs of "normal" leaves, and plant them into their own pots.

How to do this? There are different opinions on that. Some recommend just separating the plants by cutting the roots between them. However, I generally try to hurt the roots as little as possible and gently wiggle them until I can easily separate them. This might be preferrable with such a small distance between the plants as otherwise you could risk cutting too much of the root system. This question offers some more insights regarding that.

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