View additional articles in our Garden Library .
Peppers produce some of a vegetable garden’s biggest flavors while adding color and brightness as well. Peppers are among the most expensive produce in the grocery stores, so growing peppers at home can save you money as well as add spice to your garden and kitchen. Growing Peppers is very similar to growing tomatoes, making it easy to grow the two plants together.
Container Gardening Peppers:
You can save valuable vegetable garden space by growing your peppers in container gardens. Many pepper varieties adapt well to container gardening and can be combined with annuals in large pots on a deck or patio.
When container gardening your peppers, be sure to use a good, well-drained potting mix and add several inches of coarse gravel or Styrofoam pieces in the bottom for better drainage. Your container should be at least 12 inches deep. Your pepper plants should be placed in a sunny spot, receiving at least 8 hours of sun daily. Feed your pepper plants at regular intervals of 10-14 days with applications of general purpose blends of water-soluble fertilizers or apply timed-release fertilizer in your soil medium.
Seeding and Hardening off Peppers:
Pepper seeds should be sown in light, well-drained soil, and in a warm, 60° F, sunny location 6 to 8 weeks prior to the recommended date for transplanting to the vegetable garden. When you are calculating the correct peppers seedling time, allow approximately 2 weeks later than the transplanting time for tomatoes to make sure the weather will be plenty warm when pepper transplanting. Pepper seeds take approximately 16 to 20 days to germinate, but keep in mind that sprouting can be uneven at any temperature and that pepper germination rates vary depending on pepper variety. Hot peppers tend to be very slow to germinate. Be sure you don’t allow your pepper seedlings to suffer from drought or low temperatures as they develop.
Keep your pepper plants growing steadily and gradually harden them off. Approximately 7 to 10 days prior to transplanting peppers to the garden, begin adapting your pepper plants to outside conditions. You can utilize a sheltered location such as a screened in porch to protect your peppers from wind and sun at first. Then gradually accustom your peppers to vegetable garden conditions as the weather permits. Hardening off strengthens the pepper plant cell structure and will result in much sturdier and more rapidly growing pepper plants after transplanting to the vegetable garden.
Growing On Peppers:
Peppers are members of the Nightshade Family, along with tomatoes and eggplants, and thus similar in culture. However, there are a few differences when it comes to peppers. Peppers are more susceptible to cold weather damage than tomatoes are, therefore demanding constant warm weather. Never rush transplanting pepper seedlings to the garden. Make sure you are certain all danger of frost and cold weather has passed. Peppers thrive best in soils rich in organic matter, with adequate moisture. Your pepper plants should be grown in full sun, receiving at least 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. Be careful with, and possibly try to avoid, the application of fertilizers containing nitrogen, as pepper plants will tend to produce excess foliage rather than fruits.
Pepper plants should be planted with an 18” spacing in the rows and 2 ft. spacing between rows. For each pepper plant, dig a hole approximately 6 inches deep and incorporate 2 inches of organic matter and a handful of fertilizer such as 5-10-10 into the soil in the bottom of the hole. See Jung Seed’s Syphonject siphon mixer, drawing concentrated fertilizer solution from a bucket through a tube and diluting it with the passing water stream for easy pepper fertilizing while you water. Set the pepper seedlings lower in the ground than they were in their pots. After transplanting your peppers, water thoroughly. Peppers can develop Blossom End-Rot, so water them well and provide extra calcium by foliar feeding or side dressing. Staking can be beneficial since pepper plants are brittle. Cultivate often, but not deeply, to avoid root damage to your peppers. In addition, you can mulch to help prevent weed germination and the loss of moisture.
To harvest your pepper plants, snap pepper fruits off or cut them off with a knife to prevent damage to plants. Harvest the peppers throughout the season to encourage the pepper plants to continue to set peppers. Allowing the peppers to ripen on the pepper plants improves the quality and flavor, so you may want to allow some to full ripen on the pepper plants before harvesting, while picking some of them throughout the season. With proper care, your pepper plants will produce until frost.
At the end of the season, all green pepper fruits should be picked before the first hard frost. Peppers can be kept on the kitchen counter for a few days to ripen further, but if you have too many peppers to use right away, consider freezing them, canning your peppers, or drying them. Your local extension service should have helpful information on home pepper freezing and pepper canning.
Jung Seeds provides a wide variety of pepper seeds and pepper plants to help you start growing peppers at home. Be sure to shop our selection of pepper plants in our Tomato and Pepper Plant Special going on now along with our vegetable gardening supplies , and more online today.