What you're learning
- Quick Facts About Peppers
- Short Description of the Pepper Plants
- Pepper Varieties You Can Grow in your Garden
- Choosing the Right Varieties
- How to Grow Peppers from Seedlings?
- Planting the Seedlings on the Ground
- Growing Peppers in a Container
- Additional Gardening Tips When Growing Peppers
- Harvesting and Storing Peppers
- Common Problems to Watch Out For
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Peppers are available in countless varieties. You can find crisp, sweet, spicy, and small ones, giving you several options when it comes to growing peppers. You can also choose to begin your pepper plants from seedlings or invest in healthy transplants.
Whatever method you choose for growing peppers, it is possible to grow every variety of pepper plants in your backyard or garden. Let’s get to know more about how you can grow pepper plants through this article.
Quick Facts About Peppers
- Botanical name: Capsicum annum
- Type of plant: Fruit
- Soil type and pH level: Loamy; slightly acidic to neutral
- Sun exposure: Full sun
- Color of the flower: White
- Bloom time: Summer
- Hardiness zones: USDA zones 4 to 11
Short Description of the Pepper Plants
Peppers, particularly the sweet varieties, are among the most popular options of those who intend to cultivate and care for a vegetable garden. These plants are somewhat related to tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and tobacco because they are part of the Solanaceae family.
Note, though, that while potatoes and tomatoes are recognized for being easy to grow and care for, you may experience challenges when growing peppers in some areas. The reason is that these plants require a generous amount of sun and heat so they will set and produce ripe fruits.
Most peppers will just sit in your vegetable garden, waiting for the perfect and ideal conditions before beginning to grow. Gardeners who are in places with cooler climates may be unable to find fruits until the summer season ends.
It is also safe to describe all peppers as short-lived tropical perennial plants. These plants prefer days and nights that are moderately warm. You can’t also expect them to begin producing until around two months in its growing season.
Pepper Varieties You Can Grow in your Garden
When it comes to growing peppers, you should know that you have a wide range of choices. You can find several varieties and types of pepper plant and pick one based on your preferred size, level of spice, and color. Among your options are:
Also known as sweet peppers, bell peppers are the mildest out of all varieties. You can find bell peppers in shades of orange, green, yellow, and red and are often as big as a fist. You can grow bell peppers in your garden so you can either eat them raw or incorporate them into your dishes or recipes.
You can also grow hot peppers that are available in several varieties. The mildest out of them is the Anaheim pepper. However, you can also find other famous varieties of hot peppers, like the serrano and the jalapeno pepper.
Bulgarian Carrot Peppers
This type consists of orange and slender peppers that do not have any hint of sweetness. As a matter of fact, the Bulgarian carrot peppers are extremely hot, almost thrice hotter compared to the typical jalapeno. They tend to grow as bushy plants capable of producing plenty of fruits, so they are perfect choices for containers or pots.
Jalapeno peppers are so popular and come in several sub-varieties that tend to grow well in containers or pots. If you are planning to grow Jalapeno peppers, make sure to find those types or varieties that have short stature or growing season. That way, you will not experience too many challenges when growing the Jalapeno peppers in your container garden.
Fushimi Sweet Peppers
This type is a sweet and thin pepper that boasts of its crunchier texture compared to the other varieties. It has a delicious taste even if you serve it raw. The good thing about this sweet pepper is that it is very easy to grow in a pot or container while having the ability to produce amazing fruits the entire summer.
The poblano peppers can be easily recognized with their deep green color and extra-large sizes. These are great-looking mild peppers that many prefer to use when preparing chili Relleno. Even with their extra-large sizes, you can still expect poblano peppers to complement well when planted in big container pots.
Choosing the Right Varieties
With the many pepper types and varieties to choose from, including the bell peppers, you may get confused as to what you should grow. A wise advice is to plant peppers that you and the people in your household love eating.
Also, take note that capsaicin refers to the chemical, which supplies heat to the pepper. Take that into consideration when you are still trying to decide what type of pepper to plant.
Choose sweet peppers if you are not particularly fond of the spicy types. In that case, the best starting point would be the bell peppers.
Meanwhile, hot peppers come in different levels of spiciness that you can measure using the Scoville heat scale. Among your best options if you prefer to grow hot peppers are Thai chili, jalapeno, and Habanero peppers. These are incredible choices if you want some of your cooking to have bold flavors.
How to Grow Peppers from Seedlings?
Peppers love long and warm seasons, which means that it is highly recommended to do early indoor germination. It would be best for the germination process to take place in ten to fifteen days. In that case, expect the fruit to come out within 50 to 80 days after you sow them.
What’s great about peppers is that they are fairly easy to grow but again, they need warmth for a long period. Peppers need a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily, too. With that in mind, it is advisable to begin your pepper seeds around 8 weeks prior to the last frost.
You also have to make sure that the temperature at the start is around 75 to 80 degrees F. One way to do it is to use a climate-controlled bio-dome with a potting mix. Just plant the seeds in the potting mix and ensure that you stick to the required depth of around 4 times the size of the planted seeds.
This is necessary for ensuring that the roots will have sufficient room and space for their development. Encourage the quick growth of the pepper seeds by keeping them exposed to fluorescent light that’s near-constant. Do this for around 14 to 16 hours daily.
It is also advisable to retain the even moisture of your plant seedlings. Avoid oversaturating them during the early stages, too. With that said, it is necessary to supply them with warm water using a fine spray.
Planting the Seedlings on the Ground
A wise advice is to plant peppers two weeks after the last frost at the very least. You also have to plant and cultivate them around thirty inches from each other and in well-drained soil. Ensure that there is plenty of sun in the spot where you decide to grow the peppers.
Before transplanting the seedlings, it is crucial to harden the plants, giving them the chance to acclimate outdoors based on a decent and reasonable pace. Set the seedlings outside. It is preferable to set them in an area with a partial shade for around one to two hours initially.
Extend the time you make them spend outdoors daily. Also, make it a point to observe for late frosts that tend to occur surprisingly. This is the key to ensuring that you can immediately bring the plants indoors in case the cold season comes back uninvited all of a sudden.
Also, note that the best time to transplant the peppers is when they were able to form their third group of leaves. When transplanting, remember the importance of making them fairly close to one another – around thirty to thirty-six inches apart. Ensure that it is in a sunny spot, too, and use rich soil with great drainage capability.
Water the plant frequently. Do not forget to mulch occasionally, too. This is helpful in conserving soil moisture and ensuring that the peppers will remain in healthy shape the entire season.
Growing Peppers in a Container
If you have plans of creating a pepper container garden, then make it a point to keep in mind these factors and tips:
It is crucial to pick the ideal location guaranteed to make your pepper container garden thrive. In that case, your choice of location should be based on which one can provide your plants with direct sunlight. Aim to give your pepper plants a minimum of 6-hour direct sun every day.
Also, note that similar to other nightshades, all varieties, including the bell pepper and the green peppers, are fond of heat. Expect them to thrive well when exposed to daytime temperatures of around 70 to 80 degrees. Put the pot against a wall facing the South to ensure that the plant will receive plenty of sun that provides light and heat.
Right Pot or Container
If you choose to grow the more compact and narrower pepper varieties, then expect 8-inch narrow pots to work for them. However, if your plants are larger, ensure that you will use containers that are one foot in diameter at the very least.
No matter how narrow or big your chosen pot or container is, it should have a 10-inch depth, at the very least, to support sufficient root growth. Most green peppers and other varieties often survive in 5-gallon buckets.
In case you have plans of growing multiple peppers in just a single pot, which is actually possible if you go for non-bushy bell pepper varieties, choose a pot that has a diameter that is wider than one foot.
Ensure that your chosen pot has several drainage holes, too. Note that while peppers are fond of being in moist soil, you can’t expect them to like being in waterlogged pots. You may even need to use a drill that features a huge bit to create additional drainage holes at the bottom of your metal or plastic pot or container.
Use great potting soil, too. Note that the soil that you use within pots has a different environment than the one in garden beds. The reason is that no bugs and earthworms will aerate it plus it is prone to dryness as it has a limited volume, making it incapable of pulling water that can be taken from the lower depths.
It is the reason why you need to use regular dirt or garden soil that you can pull out from the ground. Buy a special potting soil specifically designed for the environment used within the container.
The good thing about this soil is that it tends to drain fast while having the ability to trap moisture evenly both from the top and bottom. This potting soil is not also vulnerable to compaction, which allows the roots to breathe with ease.
It is also crucial to water the pots daily after the temperature becomes warm to hot. To determine if the soil needs water, stick a finger to it. Examine the top inch. If it is dry, then it is time to give it water.
It is also more beneficial to water the plant early in the morning, preferably before the temperature gets too hot that rapid evaporation will most likely take place. By doing that, you can prevent your peppers from sitting in soggy soil the entire night.
You also need to fertilize your peppers. A wise recommendation is to fertilize the plant two times every month. Note that peppers tend to produce fruit at a speedy pace, which means that you need to fertilize them frequently.
Frequent fertilization is even more important if you deal with peppers in containers or pots as there is a high chance for some nutrients to get washed away as you water them. Apply a balanced vegetable fertilizer twice every month, specifically every couple of weeks, to ensure that your peppers will remain nourished for healthy production.
Additional Gardening Tips When Growing Peppers
To ensure that you continue to produce pepper bountifully, do these additional gardening tips:
Use plastic mulch
For you to start with your planted peppers early, specifically in the North, prepare a polyethylene mulch in dark color and use it to cover your prepared garden bed. Do this at least one week before you transplant the peppers.
The mulch can help in heating the soil underneath while creating the best growing condition designed to help make your young peppers prosper. With the mulch around, it is also possible for the soil to retain moisture the entire season while the plants continue to grow.
Perform companion planting
Note that peppers also tend to thrive when planted alongside other crops and veggies. If you decide to do companion planting, then your pepper should be planted close to parsley, carrots, basil, and tomatoes. Avoid planting them close to kohlrabi and fennel.
Peppers are also prone to damage if loaded with fruits. To give them proper support, use old nylons to tie them to stakes. The nylons should come with enough give while the stems enlarge. Avoid using wire twine or twist ties that may only slowly choke off the stem, or worse, snap it.
Harvesting and Storing Peppers
Once it’s time for the harvest, you can use a sharp knife or pruning shears as a means of cutting the peppers. Make sure that you leave a short stem attached to the plant. Avoid pulling the peppers using your hands as it may only result in the breakage of the whole branches.
After harvesting peppers, rinse them with water. You should then pat the harvested peppers dry then put them in your fridge for proper storage. If your harvest is too excessive, store the extras through freezing, pickling, and drying them.
One thing to remember regarding this process is that you need to pick the peppers promptly once they start to produce fruits. It is also the perfect time for harvest once they get into their full color and size. It is crucial to do regular picking as it can support the plant when it comes to producing more fruits and flowers.
Common Problems to Watch Out For
When it comes to growing peppers, you should make it a point to monitor the condition of your plants. Regardless of where you grow them, expect some issues to occur – among which are the following:
Some pests, like whiteflies, corn borers, and aphids, may infest your pepper plants. Once you detect the presence of these pests or bugs, try to move them away from areas where open soil exists and from other plants.
It also helps to use warm soapy water to wash the leaves. This should help in getting rid of all bugs and pests that may be causing a lot of damage to the foliage.
Bacterial Leaf Spot
Aside from pests, there’s also a chance for you to encounter bacterial leaf spot, an issue that causes yellowish-black and round spots to appear on the foliage. To handle this problem, you should use fresh soil every growing season. Put the pots away from other plants, too.
It also helps to check the leaf for black spots every now and then. If you see such spots in the leaves, cut them off and dispose of them immediately. This should help in slowing down the possible spread of the bacterial leaf spot.
Blossom End Rot
The blossom end rot refers to a condition, which may cause the pepper’s blossom end to become brown and mushy even before its fruits begin to mature. One cause of this problem is the insufficient consumption of calcium.
In that case, you can deal with it by applying fertilizer to the plant frequently. Follow a consistent watering schedule, too, so you can prevent such an issue from affecting your peppers, especially those grown in a pot or container.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do pepper plants need to thrive?
One of the best things that your pepper plant needs to thrive is sunlight. As a matter of fact, all pepper varieties require a minimum of 6-hour direct sunlight daily. It would be much better to give the plants more than that.
Aside from sunlight, you also need to give your pepper plant sufficient water. Use the right pot as well as good potting soil. Moreover, you need to nourish it with the most appropriate fertilizer.
How long does it take for peppers to grow?
Picking peppers as soon as they mature can result in greater yields. In that case, expect the first peppers to grow and become ready for harvest around eight to ten weeks after transplant.
How do pepper plants grow best?
Expect your pepper plants to grow best and survive by planting them in well-draining soil. You also have to amend the soil with compost. Ensure that the peppers are planted deeply, thereby ensuring that the bottom leaves found on the stem are on top of the soil.
This can lead to better root development. If you plan to do square-foot gardening for your peppers, then cultivate one pepper for every one to two squares. In the case of other gardening or planting methods, the pepper should be around 18 to 24 inches apart.
How do you look after pepper plants?
Looking after and caring for a pepper plant is all about ensuring that it continues to receive enough sunlight, water, and nourishment. You may also want to prune hot pepper or any other varieties of these plants, especially if you notice their leaves starting to die. Pruning can also help prevent pests from infesting your pepper plants.
Your decision to grow peppers is truly fun and exciting. You just have to make sure that you develop the perfect conditions for them to grow. Your efforts will be rewarded soon especially once you notice your hot pepper, bell pepper, or any other pepper variety starting to thrive every season and promote healthy growth.
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