Pots for Veggies

I usually start a variety of hot peppers early. Most of the time it’s the middle of January through the end of Feb. I need to give them a head start with my shorter season plus some of the superhots have a long germination period.

I’ve been using plastic solo cups because they’re cheap and about the right size. However it’s circle central for the roots. They get rootbound so bad that they never really recover well when planted even when I root prune them.

My questions are- has anyone tried any of the root trainer pots used for trees for vegetables? Is there anything that would provide air pruning without sacrificing space that’s also affordable? I like the 3" size because I can fit a lot on my shelves. I tried rootmaker flats last spring. They worked good, but they could have been bigger.

If I can transplant them without losing a couple weeks to transplant shock it would help alot I think.

i grew my peppers last spring in solo cups. when they got about 3in i transplanted them into 5 gal fabric pots and put them out in my greenhouse. they grew like crazy and i had more peppers than i could use from 20 plants. the key is not to leave your seedlings in the solo cups too long. at 3in. mine were just starting too completely circle but i was still able to tease them apart without breaking any.

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Well that’s not good to read about the roots. This is the first year I’m starting a bunch of peppers and tomatoes indoors. Just started mine the last half of December. I was told the Solo Cups could carry single peppers to March. Have you grown any of these with the root issues?

Apocalypse Scorpion
Carolina Reaper
Chocolate Seven Pot
Aji Habanero
Aji Crystal
Aji Mango
Aji Lemon Drop
Aji Fantasy White
Dulce Sol
Jimmy Nardello

Sun Gold
Candy Land
SV7846TH(free tomato seeds sent with order. No clue what these suckers are)

Maybe I’m trying to start them too early. The Aji and Shishito grew faster for me last year. Reapers and Scorpions aren’t usually a problem. They take forever it seems. I haven’t grown all of them on your list. I could also be paranoid after the long spring last year.

@Travis, with your short growing season I would start all chinense specied varieties in beginning of dec. all other species can be started a little later. If you are growing any pubescens you could start them early and put them out when your low temps are in lower 40’s (they like a little colder weather than all other peppers and less sun then all other varieties. Here is a good source of info for growing peppers if you have not used it already.


annuum species can be sown the latest of all species, they are the fastest growing of all.


last year i started mine in february and I’m in a similar zone but i grew them in warm conditions, under a led in my grow room until early june before putting them out in the greenhouse. i also kept them on a large heat mat until they were about 2in. tall.

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I use the rootmaker 18 cell trays for my sweet peppers. It has worked well for me but I only have mine in pots for 8 weeks if the weather cooperates. As long a time frame as you are growing inside I would think you’d need to go up to 1 gallon size.

I’m able to get pretty big plants by planting time. Usually they’re at least a foot tall. When I was cleaning the garden this fall I pulled up the old plants. Most of the rootballs were still in the shape of a cup which is making me rethink what I’m doing. Maybe I should just make more space and get bigger pots.

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Have you looked at soil blocks at all? I’ve been using them for two years now and they’ve been working well for my peppers and pretty much everything else I’ve tried in them. I have a terrible habit of starting too early because my fingers get itchy to plant. When I pulled my peppers and cucs at the end of the season, the root balls were way bigger than the soil blocks I planted originally. I don’t start peppers in the tiny ones though. Peppers I usually start in the 2" blocks and the air pruning has worked well. After the 30 bucks for the blocker, I haven’t had to even spring for the solo cups- just the soil I would have used anyway.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

I’ve looked at them but never tried. How don’t they fall apart?

I get amazing roots in these grow bags. They’re not intended for growing trees from seeds (from personal experience now) - but they are great for rooting figs/etc. or starting veggies.

A good thread that one is too for other alternative containers.



“I’ve looked at them but never tried. How don’t they fall apart?”

Part of why they dont fall apart is the makeup of the soil and part of the reason is that when you make them, you let the soil really absorb the water before contracting them with the blocker tool. I once saw a video of Eliot Coleman throwing one back and forth without out losing shape. As long as I include enough peat, sphagnum moss, or coconut coir in whatever soil combo recipe I decide to try and really let the ingredients sit for at least a few hours to really absorb the water first, I can do it too. I mean, not that I would try it over and over and over again, but a few tosses are doable.

If you search for Eliot Coleman and soil block recipe you can find some fairly old but useful videos on it. I usually place mine in disposable roasting pans that I reuse every year and make sure to bottom water. It has also saved me a lot of time watering because I can water so many at once and since they are all the same size and consistency, I can watch one soak up the water and know they were all watered sufficiently.

There are usually a few roots that form and travel under the blocks but that wouldn’t happen if I used the tray sold specifically for that purpose from Johnny’s.

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thats all i use. got a bunch of currants out in the yard in 20 gal. growth is phenomenal! nearly double of the same ones planted in ground. i think the extra o2 to the roots is what makes them work so well. only drawback is you have to water more often. i put 4in. of wood chips around the top. helps to hold moisture better.


100% agree Moose.

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My best successes have been with seedlings transplanted as soon as feasible. Really small compared to store bought seedlings. They recover better and take over bigger transplants. Without a doubt the roots are a component of it. Incidentally, I grow all peppers in 3 gallon pots, with great success. My soil does not warm up in time to produce a good crop…