Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How To Grow Peppers

Growing peppers has been one of my favorite things about gardening. Not for any particular reason other than I love eating peppers. Mine got off to a rocky start this year. They got sick after 30 days of cold rain, and I was sure they were goners. I left them in their planters to see if they'd survive and for a while they were yellow and wilty. Then one day, suddenly they woke back up, turned green and began to bloom and provide me with fruit. We use our hot banana peppers in stir fries along with our jalapeƱos, and orange and red bell peppers. With all the varieties out there, it's fun to see what you can grow. Our jalapeƱos have been a fun surprise since some of them are fairly mild, and others from the very same plant are so hot we can't even eat them. It's been a great year having them in my garden and I'm excited to try some more varieties next year!


Sun: Full Sun
Soil Type: Loamy
Water: Don't overwater, but check regularly
Plant Type: Vegetable


Any pot at least 12 inches in diameter and depth is a good fit for peppers. If you choose a plastic pot, the dirt won't dry out as quickly as a clay pot. Make sure the pot has good drainage holes or the pepper roots will rot.

Because your pepper plants are being grown in pots, you'll want a soil rich with nutrients. Choose a fluffy potting soil that allows for good water retention but also good drainage. A lot of times the fluffier potting soils come filled with lots of fertilizer and plant food in it already, which gets your plants off to a good start. It's best not to use soil from your garden or nearby flower beds as it is likely to be full of possible pests or diseases. You can also try a slow release fertilizer that will add additional nutrients slowly over a long period while there is active fruit production.

Depending on the type of pepper plant, it may be good to stake it. Be sure to place the stakes in the pot before adding the soil and before you plant it. Staking after it's been growing can hurt the roots. Fill the container halfway full with the potting soil. Position the plant close to the stake and fill in the soil around the plant. Pat down a little to hold it in place, and water it thoroughly. If the soil settles lower, add a little more until it's the appropriate depth in the pot. Make sure to plant the seedling the depth it was planted in its nursery pot.  

For staking, you can use a small tomato cage for pepper plants that grow larger fruit. When the fruit gets ready to ripen, it can be heavy on the plant and make it start to tip over. You can also add a stake like a small bamboo stick, or any stick, and loosely tie the pepper stems to it as it grows taller. This will help support the plant when it gets heavier with fruit.

Set your new pepper in a sunny spot with protection from the wind. Peppers need full sun, so try to give them at least 8 hours of a sun per day. Check the pot daily to make sure it is not over dry, and water as needed. Peppers do not like soggy soil, but they do need adequate water to grow properly. When fertilizing, water the pepper plant first, and then fertilize it after. This protects the plant from fertilizer burn. Harvest the mature peppers regularly to keep the plant producing. 


Pepper plants self-pollinate, so you don't need bees to get fruit, but having bees pollinate helps you get more peppers! If you are growing them in a pot with less access to pollinators, like an enclosed porch, you can actually pollinate them yourself. Give the blooms a shake each day, or rub a small brush or your finger inside each bloom, which will move the pollen to the back of the bloom.

To harvest ripe peppers, use kitchen shears or scissors to snip the stem. Pulling them off the plant can actually uproot the plant. 


The common diseases or pests that attack peppers are aphids, flea beetles, cucumber mosaic virus, blossom end rot that appears as a sunken area that is softer and turns darker. Also, if temperatures are below 60F or above 90F pollination can be reduced. If you fertilize with too much nitrogen, it will reduce the amount of fruit that sets.


When handling hot peppers that have turned red, they are likely to be the hottest. Be very careful while handling them. Capsaicin, which is the oil from peppers that gives them their heat, is mostly concentrated in the veins, ribs and seeds. Be careful to not get the juice in your eyes or nose, and if that happens flush immediately with cold water. If your mouth is on fire, try eating yogurt or drinking milk to take away the burn. Also, blue Dawn dish soap can take it from under your nails. I learned this the hard way when handling serrano peppers. I got the oils under my nails  and couldn't get it to wash off. I found out it was still there hours later by putting my contacts in with the oil on my fingertips. The only thing I could do was flush my eyes with eyedrops, and wait thirty minutes for them to water themselves clean. Blue Dawn was the only thing that got rid of the oil under my nails. Talk about a fun experience!

Join the conversation!

Thanks for stopping by The Joy Blog! I hope you like what you have seen so far. Feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments. I respond to almost every single comment.

Latest Instagrams

© THE JOY BLOG. Design by FCD.