Growing peppers is easy, and doesn’t require much work. Whether you put them in pots or in your garden, pepper plant care is the same. Follow these easy tips for how to grow peppers, and you’ll have your biggest and best harvest ever!
When it comes to growing vegetables, peppers are a must for me! I plant several varieties every year, both in my garden and in containers.
Every time I share a photo of my harvests on social media, people always ask “How do you grow such big peppers?“.
I’ve been growing peppers in my z4b garden for years. Over the years I have learned lots of tricks for consistently producing an amazing bounty. So below, I’m going to share my best tips with you.
This detailed pepper plant care guide will give you all the information you need to be successful. You’ll learn everything from planting through harvesting.
Including where, when, and how to plant them, instructions for watering, sunlight, soil, fertilizer, pruning, disease and pest control, harvesting, propagation tips, and much more!
Here’s what you’ll find in this pepper plant growing guide…
- Information About Pepper Plants
- Where To Grow
- How To Grow
- Care Instructions
- Harvesting Tips
- Propagation Tips
- Winter Care & Dormancy
- Troubleshooting Common Problems
Information About Pepper Plants
Peppers (capsicum) are wonderful, and so versatile! This popular veggie is a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes.
You might be surprised to learn that capsicum plants are native to the tropical regions of North and South America, where some varieties can grow to be large shrubs.
Different Types Of Pepper Plants To Grow
There are hundreds of different kinds of peppers, so you can have fun growing new types every year. They come in wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors.
Some can grow to be several feet tall, while others stay much smaller, and more compact. The size, color, and shape of the fruits also vary greatly.
Fruit sizes range from ornamental varieties, like Black Pearl and Thai hots that are smaller than a marble. To the larger giants of the ‘Big Bertha’ bells, or poblanos (anchos), which can grow to be are several inches long.
You can also find peppers in just about any color, from white to yellow, orange, red, green, purple, to almost black. Some are even variegated!
The flavors vary almost as greatly as their colors. You’ll find they range anywhere from mild, to sweet, slightly spicy, or hot, all the way up to OMG-my-mouth-is-on-fire (that’s not a technical term, haha)!
Here are some of my favorite varieties to plant in my garden every year…
- Bell (sweet)
- Sweet banana (sweet)
- Purple bell (mild)
- Poblano/Ancho (mild)
- Padron chile (mild to hot as they mature)
- Chilli (medium)
- Cayenne (hot)
- Fish variegated (hot)
- Jalapeno (hot)
- Ghost (super hot)
- Habanero (super hot)
Hardiness Of Peppers
Though most of us grow peppers as annuals that we replace every year, they are actually tender perennial plants that can live for many years in the right climate.
So, if you live in a warm enough area (zone 10b or above), you can grow them in your garden as perennials year round.
For the rest of us, they must be replanted every year. Or you could overwinter them indoors. That way, you can keep your favorite varieties year after year, and get an even longer and larger harvest!
How Do Peppers Grow?
Capsicum plants must flower in order to produce fruit. Shortly after the flowers have been pollinated, tiny baby peppers will start growing out of them.
If the flowers die and fall off, that means they weren’t pollinated. But it’s easy to hand pollinate them by simply taking your finger and touching the inside of each flower, one after another.
Where To Grow Pepper Plants
One of the things I love the most about growing peppers is that they perform equally well in containers as they do in the ground. Heck, you could even bring them inside, and keep your favorite varieties for many years.
Pepper Plant Care Indoors
If you want to try growing peppers indoors, choose a warm room where they will get a lot of light. A south facing window is ideal, but they also do very well under grow lights.
They will get leggy indoors without the proper amount of sunlight. If that starts happening, add a grow light, and set it on a timer so it stays on for 12-14 hours a day.
You certainly could keep them indoors all year, but you’ll probably find it’s easier to move them outside for the summer.
For best results, wait to move them outdoors until it’s consistently above 55F, and be sure to slowly acclimate them to the sun or their leaves will get sunburn.
Growing Peppers Outdoors
Outdoors, plant them in a sunny spot in your garden that has fertile, fast draining soil. They won’t tolerate wet roots, so make sure the location you choose has very good drainage.
All types of pepper plants also perform very well in containers, so they’re an excellent choice for growing on a sunny patio, deck, or balcony.
How To Grow Peppers
Before getting into the detailed pepper plant care instructions, it’s important to understand a few key things about planting them in order to be as successful as possible.
When To Plant Peppers
Capsicum plants like it hot, and grow their best in warm conditions. In fact, they need lots of heat in order to flower and produce fruit.
So be sure to wait until the weather has warmed up before planting them in the spring. It’s not beneficial to try planting them early. Cool temperatures will stunt their growth, and they will not tolerate frost at all.
It’s safe to plant peppers outside once the soil has warmed up, nighttime temps are consistency above 50F, and all chance of frost is gone.
How To Plant Peppers
Whether you have your own seedlings, or starts from the garden center, it’s a good idea to plant them 1-2″ deeper than they were growing in the pot.
They will form new roots along the stem that’s underground, making the plant much stronger. Remove a few sets of the bottom leaves before planting, if necessary.
Pepper plants don’t need a ton of space, which is great for those of us with small garden plots. It’s ok if they’re touching a little bit, but don’t overcrowd them. Space them 18-24″ apart, depending on the size of the plant.
Pepper Plant Care Instructions
If you follow these pepper plant care tips, you’re sure to get the largest and the best harvest you’ve ever had! These instructions work for all varieties as well.
Whether you grow pepper plants in pots or the garden, they will not tolerate having wet feet for very long.
So it’s very important to keep the soil on the dry side. Allow it to dry between waterings, but never to the point where the plant starts drooping.
It’s also crucial to give them a consistent amount of water. Inconsistent watering can stunt their growth, slow down fruit production, and is a contributing factor for blossom end rot.
If you struggle with giving them the right amount of water, then use a moisture meter to make is easy to get right.
Capsicum plants need full sun to grow and produce their best, and the more sunlight the better. Though they will tolerate partial shade, you will get a much smaller harvest.
Ideally, you should grow peppers where they will receive more than 8 hours of direct sunshine every day. But they will still perform well in a location that gets a minimum of 6 hours of full sun during the peak of the day.
If your yard is pretty shady, then choose a spot where they’ll be in the sun during the afternoon when the rays are the most intense.
The best soil for pepper plants is one that is rich in organic nutrients, and also fast draining. They don’t like soggy soil, and too much water can cause issues like mildew and rotting, or even stunt their growth.
Though they will tolerate acidic conditions, they perform best in alkaline soil. If the leaves are turning yellow, or your plants aren’t growing, it’s a sure sign that the soil is too acidic.
Capsicum plants love being fed during their active growing season. Regular fertilizing will help them grow faster, and produce larger fruits. A rich, organic plant food is the best type to use for growing peppers.
It’s also good to feed them every few weeks using an organic liquid fertilizer. I recommend using fish emulsion or compost tea (which you can buy as concentrate, or brew your own with compost tea bags).
Pest & Disease Control
Though they are super easy to grow, peppers they can have some issues. Diseases like powdery mildew and bacterial leaf spot can sometimes become a problem.
Blossom end rot is also very common, and happens when there is a calcium deficiency caused by inconsistent watering.
These disease and mildew issues can easily be prevented by proper plant spacing, and also consistent watering.
As far as insects go, pepper plants are aphid magnets, which is usually more of a problem indoors than it is outside. If you find a bug infestation, then wash the leaves with organic insecticidal soap.
Pepper plants are generally very low maintenance, and don’t require much pruning. But they will grow larger fruits if you pinch off some of the flower buds once the plant starts producing.
Also, they will produce more when you regularly prune the suckers. This is the extra growth between the leaf and stem joints, or around the base of the plant.
You can also prune them to maintain their size and shape, and to keep the plants more compact and fuller, if desired.
Tips For Harvesting Peppers
One of the things that makes growing peppers so easy is that you can harvest them at any time. You don’t even need to wait for them to ripen. Although, the flavor will be a milder when you harvest immature ones.
The longer they are left to mature on the plant, the hotter/sweeter they will become. The amount of time it takes for them to ripen depends on the variety you’re growing.
It’s easy to harvest peppers, simply cut them off the plant when they’re ready. It’s a good idea to use a sharp pair of pruners to cut them, rather than pulling them off. Otherwise you could break the branch, or cause other other damage to the plant.
Related Post: Storing Peppers For Winter Use
Propagating Pepper Plants
Pepper plants can be propagated from stem cuttings or from seeds. Take 3-4″ long stem cuttings during the summer.
Remove the bottom leaves, then dip the cut ends in rooting hormone, and stick them in soil. Keep the soil moist, and the air humid. After a few weeks, the cuttings will form new roots.
They can also be propagated from seeds, which is fairly simple to do. Learn exactly how to grow them from seeds here.
Pepper Plant Winter Care & Dormancy
As I mentioned above, you can try growing pepper plants indoors through the winter. But if you don’t want to hassle with that, you could try keeping them dormant.
Simply place the pot in a cool, dark location, and allow the soil to dry out completely. The leaves will drop from the plant, signaling dormancy.
Keep the soil barely moist through the winter, and then bring them back out in the spring. Get the exact steps for how to overwinter dormant pepper plants here.
Troubleshooting Common Problems
The hardest thing about pepper plant care is when you start having issues, and you have no idea how to fix them. It’s never fun!
So below I will list some of the most common problems you may run into, and give you tips for how to fix them…
- Pepper plants are slow or not growing – If the plant doesn’t seem to be getting any bigger, then it’s probably either too cold or too wet. Remember, they like it hot, so move them to a full sun location. Also, keep in mind that some varieties don’t grow very large, so it may just have reached its mature size.
- Flowers falling off – When the flowers die and fall off, that means they weren’t pollinated. If the bees aren’t helping, then you can pollinate the flowers yourself by gently rubbing the inside of each one with your finger.
- Leaves are turning yellow – This is usually caused by overwatering, but it could be acidic soil, or a nitrogen deficiency. If you suspect a problem with the soil, then use a pH probe to check the acidity, or a test kit to check the nutrients.
- Rot on the bottom of the fruits – Blossom end rot is a very common problem, which causes the fruit to rot from the bottom up. It happens when the plant can’t get enough calcium because of improper watering. It’s easily fixed by simply ensuring you are watering consistently.
FAQs About Growing Peppers
In this section, I’m going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about caring for pepper plants. If you can’t find answer to your question here, then ask it in the comments below.
Related Post: How To Make Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
How long does it take to grow a pepper?
Pepper plants need a fairly long season in order to produce mature fruit. Depending on the variety, it can take anywhere from 100-150 days (4-5 months) to grow them from seed to harvest.
What month do you plant peppers?
That depends on where you live. If you’re in a warm climate, you can plant peppers at any time. However, if you live somewhere cold like I do, then wait until the soil has warmed up, and all chance of frost is gone in the spring before planting. For us here in z4b, that is late May or early June.
How much sun does a pepper plant need?
Capsicum plants need full sun. Ideally at least 8 hours of full sun outdoors, and 12-14 hours of direct light indoors (either from a sunny south facing window, or by using grow lights).
Do pepper plants grow back every year?
In the ideal climate, yes, they are perennials that will grow back every year. However, if it gets below freezing, then pepper plants will be killed, and won’t grow back the following year.
Do pepper plants need a lot of water?
No, in fact they won’t tolerate being overwatered for very long. They prefer their soil to dry out slightly between waterings. However, they do require consistent watering.
Growing peppers is easy when you know the secrets. And now that you know exactly how to do it, you’ll have your best harvest yet. Follow these care instructions, and soon people will be asking YOU how to grow bigger peppers!
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Share your tips for growing peppers in the comments section below.