What is the Difference Between Genetically Modified, Heirloom, and Hybrid Pepper Seeds?

Martin SmazenkoHot PeppersLeave a Comment

pepper seeds

Entering into the world of creating your own unique hot pepper can be as exciting as it is intricate. However, before even worrying about the genetics of it all, potential seed breeders need to understand the different types of pepper seeds.

When engineering pepper seeds, growers will be working with primarily three types of seeds – hybrids, heirlooms, and genetically modified.

Genetically Modified

You have to be really up to snuff in order to create and work with genetically modified seeds. Most pepper seeds are crossed with the DNA of other living matter to get unique characteristics. However, because of this alteration, after growing, the seeds produced by these plants will not be viable. Without the right techniques and equipment, genetic engineering is pretty difficult, so don’t expect to be trying this with your new pepper plants.


Heirloom seeds are openly pollinated seeds that have been passed down through generations. Some consider as little as five generations of seeds to be heirlooms while purists insist that heirlooms must have endured over 50 consecutive generations to wear the mantle. While pepper seed breeders like to grow heirloom seeds, they are no longer heirlooms if they are cross-bred.

pepper seeds


These are the seeds that pepper engineers will be working with. This term describes seeds that have been cross-bred with another species. However, hybrid species are tricky to sustain. Once the seeds are harvested, they are likely to revert to their wild parent, making creating hybrid seeds a yearly venture. However, occasionally growers will get seeds that do maintain their hybrid status, but the results are unreliable at best.

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