Whether you’re just starting or already expanding your edible garden, you should take time to learn how to grow peppers. These plants will add a lot of different flavors to your harvest, especially if you opt to populate your backyard with different varieties.
Pepper plant care is quite specific, however. These plants know exactly what they like and dislike and you should cater to that if you want a healthy and productive plant. This is why it’s crucial to know everything you can about its cultivation so you can do exactly what is needed to successfully grow some.
This guide aims to help you with such so check out the information we have to offer below.
Why Peppers are Great Additions to Your Garden
Still trying to decide whether planting peppers is something you should do? If you need more convincing, here are a few good reasons why folks choose to grow their own peppers at home:
1. There are so many different pepper varieties that you can work with and they can bring in different flavors to your dishes.
Unlike other fruits and vegetables, the different pepper varieties have completely different flavors and even appearances. They don’t just vary in terms of fruit size or color.
The different varieties are so dissimilar from each other that you can already get a lot of different flavors even if they’re the only edible plants in your garden.
2. Growing peppers of different varieties require similar steps and techniques.
Aside from having lots of options when it comes to the very pepper variety to plant, you might be glad to know that they don’t have significant differences when it comes to the growing techniques they require.
So if you want to learn how to plant green peppers, the process shouldn’t be too different from how to plant red peppers. This makes it possible for you to grow several different varieties in one go without having to alter your methodology.
3. They’re excellent ingredients for various dishes.
Peppers are excellent additions to all sorts of dishes. They can work in stews, stir-frys, and salads among many others. Since they offer sweet and spicy varieties, you can certainly make a lot of use of your harvest if you choose to add a few different plants in your garden.
4. They’re relatively easy to grow.
While there are very specific steps in growing peppers, they’re still considered as easy-to-grow plants by many. And as they offer amazing outturn, they can totally be worth the effort.
5. They’ll add more color to your garden.
If you’ll opt to grow pepper of different varieties in your garden, you can also expect a burst of color from them. These vegetable plants can give you green, red, orange, purple, and yellow veggies which can easily make your garden a lot more pleasing to the eye.
What You Need to Know About Growing Peppers
Aside from the great things that you’ll enjoy from having a pepper plant in your backyard, there are quite a few more things that you should know if you intend to know how to grow peppers. To help you get to know these crops better, here are the basics that you should know if you want to successfully grow pepper at home.
Different pepper varieties have varying growing periods.
One of the most frequently asked questions related to growing peppers is ‘how long does it take to grow peppers from seed?’. This is also possibly the most important thing to ask when deciding whether to plant this crop or not.
Why? Pepper’s growing season is quite lengthy. This is the very reason why starting pepper seeds is recommended 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost of spring. Pepper seeds don’t germinate right away which is why lots of people also research on how to germinate pepper seeds fast when they start getting interested in starting a few pepper plants. It can take a few weeks to a month for a seedling to sprout.
And this period is just for starting the seeds. This doesn’t include the hardening period of the seedlings which come before their transplanting to their permanent location. This can take weeks so the plants can get adjust to the climate.
After transplanting, you can then refer to the packet of the seeds you’ve planted to learn about the growth duration of your plant. Some sweet varieties take 60-90 days to mature while hot peppers typically take up to 150 days. It depends on the variety, so refer to specific information about the pepper variety you planted.
Choose the variety (or varieties) that you’ll enjoy at home.
Choosing the right variety is another crucial decision you have to make if you’re starting a pepper garden. Again, there are tons of options, so you have to choose carefully.
These varieties are not just classified as yellow pepper plants or green pepper plants, so you have to be more particular about making a choice.
Luckily, making a choice shouldn’t be that hard to do. You can just think up of your favorite peppers and go for them. If you love eating certain kinds of peppers, then add those to your list.
Aside from your favorites, you can also add others to your garden for some variety. To help you choose, here are some of the best peppers to grow according to many home growers:
- Red Cayenne
- Sweet Banana
- Bell Boy
Peppers aren’t big fans of the cold.
Peppers are classified as summer crops primarily because they can’t necessarily handle the cold. Their ideal temperatures range from 55 to 75F when blossoming. If the daytime temperatures go higher than 90F as the plant blossoms, the buds will fall off which will, of course, affect your yield. They’re also frost-tender plants. Growing peppers from seed might not always take because they might not germinate in cold soil.
Pepper seedlings can also die from spring frosts so it’s very important to time the procedure and get them acclimated to the outside temperatures before transplanting them.
Because of this, it might be better to grow them in pots or in a greenhouse. Doing so will help you control the temperature around them more easily.
Growing peppers in containers would be a quick and easy solution for many home gardeners.
As mentioned above, the cold can affect the growth of pepper plants. While you can definitely plant it in your backyard veggie garden, these plants can get injured and their growth can be stunted when exposed to extremely low temperatures. You can easily cover them up for protection but then again, extreme conditions can still have an effect on them when grown as outdoor plants.
Growing peppers in containers would be a great alternative if you don’t have a greenhouse. This will let you easily move them indoors when the temperature starts to drop.
You might want to ask, how tall do pepper plants grow because of this. You don’t have to fret, though, because peppers don’t grow too tall so planting them in a pot won’t necessarily limit their roots’ growth. Bell pepper plants can range from 6 inches to 3 feet tall, depending on the variety. Hot peppers, on the other hand, can range from 12 inches to 48” tall.
Don’t hesitate to grow a pepper garden.
It’s a common myth that planting sweet and hot peppers together can affect the taste of the crops. There’s no need to fret about the flavors changing, however, because these plants are self-pollinated. You won’t create a new variety by just planting sweet ones next to hot ones.
It might even be a better idea to grow them together because they thrive in similar conditions. By planting different varieties in one go, you’ll have more pepper varieties to harvest using the same growing techniques and measures you need to grow a single pepper variety.
How to Grow Pepper Plants: A Step-by-Step Guide
Ready to start learning how to grow pepper plants? Here’s a step-by-step guide that can help walk you through the process.
1. Make choices.
The first thing that you need to know if you want to learn how to plant pepper plants is that you have to take a pick among your different options when it comes to growing these plants. You should choose a pepper variety to plant and whether to start with seeds or a seedling.
Choosing from the pepper varieties shouldn’t be that complicated as you just have to decide what kind of pepper you’d want to have on hand. You can also select several of them in one go as companion planting is possible and even recommended for pepper.
The bigger decision that you might need to think about, however, is whether to plant from seeds or from seedlings. Most guides on how to plant peppers start with seeds but some experts also recommend starting from seedlings because pepper is a long-season plant.
Pepper seedlings offer a shorter wait for the plants to mature because you don’t have to wait for the seeds to germinate and sprout. The maturation time listed in seed packets actually start from the time seedlings are transplanted to their permanent homes, so if you’re hoping to only wait 60 to 90 days to start enjoying garden-fresh bell pepper, you can achieve such by starting with bell pepper seedlings.
Growing peppers from seeds can also be a good idea for many reasons. For one, seeds are easier to get. However, it will be better if you get them from certified seed catalogs and garden centers. Don’t use seeds from actual plants as they might not have the same traits as the parent plant.
2. Prepare your planting site or container.
Once you have your pepper sprouts or seeds, the next thing you need to do is to prepare the plot or pots they’re going into. If you live in a warm region, you can opt to directly plant your peppers on the ground. If not, it might be better to use seedling trays first if you’re going from seeds. These also work similarly for seedlings except you can already directly plant them on a bigger, more permanent container if you’re not putting them on your garden permanently.
Pepper is not exactly very picky when it comes to the type of soil it can grow in. However, the best soil for peppers would be rich and loamy.
When planting in your backyard, choose a sunny spot with good drainage. It should have a neutral pH level ( 6.0 to 6.8) and with ample nutrients. Do not add too much nitrogen, though, as this can cause your pepper plant to grow too fast and become more susceptible to diseases.
When planting in a container for seeds, use some seed starting soil. You can also use pre-moistened peat pellets.
3. Prepare and plant your seeds.
If you want to learn how to grow peppers from seeds, this would be an important part for you to know about. To go about this step, here are a few things you need to do:
- Start your seedlings 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost of spring. This should give your plant enough time to germinate and get stronger before you can plant it outside.
- Plant three seeds in one container. This will give you at least two healthy sprouts which can then offer you a more resilient crop and good yield.
- How to plant pepper seeds: place the seeds on top of the soil then press it down. You can also opt to just make a hole in the soil then drop the seeds in. Cover the seed with soil.
- Water the seeds right away. To avoid disturbing the seeds, water the seedling tray from the bottom.
How to germinate pepper seeds? Keep it warm. You can do this by placing the lid on top of the tray or by placing it on top of the refrigerator. Your goal is to reach 70F to help the seed germinate so it’s ideal to place the seedling trays somewhere warm. Some even recommend using heat mats to reach such temperatures.
Do not forget to water the seeds as it needs to stay moist to germinate. Keeping it in a warm place will dry it out so make sure to water it regularly. Do not keep it wet, however. Allow the soil to dry out a bit before watering again.
As mentioned above, growing bell pepper from seed can take a while. It can take up to 6 weeks or more for some seeds to germinate, so don’t expect to see sprouts a few days after planting a few seeds.
It still depends on the variety, however, so make sure to do some research about the variety you chose to plant. Some will be ready to transplant in less than a month while others will take significantly longer to grow out.
So if you’re working on jalapeno seedlings, expect to wait about 8-12 weeks before you can plant it outside. You can expect shorter waiting time for sweet varieties, however. So if you have bell pepper sprouts, you might only need to wait for 8 to 10 weeks before you can transplant them.
When they start growing true leaves after about two months, you should thin out the weakest seedling. This will leave you with two seedlings in one container. After a while, when the first true leaves have come out, you can then transplant these seedlings in a bigger pot (about 3-5 inches). Continue growing it indoors until it has reached
Skip to the next step if you’re going to start with seedlings.
4. Harden your seedlings.
When your seedlings reach 4 to 6 inches in height, you can already start planning on transplanting them to their permanent plots or pots. Before you move your pepper plant seedlings, however, you should harden them off first.
This might sound like a complicated task but it’s actually pretty simple. Hardening off a seedling only means that you’ll expose the young plants to outside conditions little by little so they can adjust to living outside.
Doing so can prevent stressing out the plants and ensure a big and good yield. Here are the steps in hardening your pepper seedlings:
- About ten days before you transplant your seedlings, you should start taking out your seedlings for 3 to 4 hours a day. Place them in a shady, covered spot outside. This can be by the side of your house, in the patio, under a tree, or on the porch. Anywhere it gets exposed to the outside and gets some sunshine can be a good spot. Move them back indoors or in a heated space when the temperature drops to the mid-60F range.
- Increase your seedlings’ time outside as the days go by.
- After about 3 to 4 days, start exposing the seedlings to the morning sun. Move them back to the shade in the afternoon, however, to avoid scalding their leaves.
- As you go into the warmer days of spring, start leaving the seedlings outside all day. Make sure that the sun doesn’t dry out the soil, however. You can then also start leaving them outside at night.
- If your seedling doesn’t show signs of stress, then you can already transplant it to its permanent spot in your garden.
5. Introduce fertilizer to your seedlings before transplanting.
In the middle of hardening off your pepper seedlings, you should also introduce some fertilizer to your young plants. Do this a week before you transplant them.
6. Transplant your seedlings.
Moving your pepper seedlings to their permanent spots is another crucial part of the pepper-growing process. For this step, here’s what you need to do:
- Time the transplant properly. The last frost of spring should already have passed as planting peppers ahead of it can kill your crop. You should also do the actual planting at the right time of day. The soil should be at least 65F or warmer as anything colder will be fatal to your pepper plant.
- Transplant the seedlings at about 1 inch deeper than how they’re planted in their seedling containers. Space each plant apart by allocating about 14 to 18 inches in between each one.
- Place 2-3 matchsticks around each plant, especially if they’re of the tall variety. Add about a teaspoon of fertilizer above its roots as well.
7. Keep your pepper plants warm.
As pepper likes being warm, you should make sure that it doesn’t get too cold. If the temperatures drop below 55F, their growth can be stunted. This will also cause pepper plant flowers to fall off which can then affect your yield. To prevent this, you can warm the soil using black plastic or install a floating row cover.
8. Care for your pepper plants properly.
Pepper plants need to get about an inch of water per week so make sure to do this regularly. Closely monitor them during the hottest days of summer and make sure that they don’t completely dry out. Keep your peppers well watered with the best soaker hose which fits your budget.
It’s also recommended to add a layer of mulch during the warmer months to help the soil retain moisture.
Doing this can also help provide more nutrients to your plants. Be careful not to mulch cool soil, however. Mulch can keep the soil cool which can then stunt the growth of your pepper plant.
Remember to weed carefully around the plant a well.
9. Pinch off new flower buds and growth.
You might be thinking, why should you remove signs of growth in your young plant when you want it to grow? If you want larger and better yield, you should pinch off new growth so the plant can focus on growing your vegetables instead of supporting new growth. Doing this won’t harm the plant.
10. Harvest and enjoy!
The great thing about peppers is that you’ll still be able to enjoy them even if you choose to harvest them before they’re fully mature. If you wait for them to completely ripen, you’ll get more vitamins and nutrients. They’ll also have richer flavors that some folks prefer. It’s completely up to you, however, when you want to harvest your peppers, though.
Here's a short video with even more advice on how to grow peppers in a raised garden bed!
Additional Tips for Growing Peppers
- Spray your plants with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in a gallon of water when they start blossoming and then ten days later. Doing this will help improve the size of their fruits.
- Staking your pepper plants is recommended, especially if you chose a variety that can produce very large fruits. Stakes can provide ample support to the plant so they won’t break. They can also prevent the fruits from touching the ground.
- Do not pull out the fruits. Cut them clean leaving a small stub of stem behind.
- Do your own research about the pests that can harm your pepper plant. This will help you cover all your bases if you want to grow peppers without a hitch.
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