Spice Up Your Garden With Our Guide to Growing Peppers
Peppers are some of the easiest vegetables to grow, so we always recommend growing them if you’re a beginner looking for a first-time project. There are so many varieties to choose from—some are mild and sweet, while others really pack a punch! Plus, they have plenty of ornamental value. You’ll love the burst of color they bring to the scenery as their fruits ripen from green to yellow, purple, red, or orange!
What Do Peppers Need to Grow Well?
Peppers need full sun—that means 6–8 hours of direct sunlight per day. The more sun they get, the bigger and brighter they’ll be! You can grow them in a 12–18” pot or in a garden bed spaced 18” apart. Ensure the soil is well-draining with plenty of compost mixed in—this will help regulate moisture retention while also providing your plants with nutrients and beneficial microorganisms.
Pepper plants need about one inch of water per week, but you may have to water more frequently if the weather is particularly hot and dry. Spreading a layer of mulch will help conserve moisture and prevent the heat from drying it all up. Typically, peppers grown in containers need more frequent watering—about once every two days. Maintaining a consistent watering schedule will produce bigger, tastier fruits—your best bet is to water early before the sun heats the soil.
Applying an organic fertilizer formulated for vegetable gardens will help your plant grow stronger roots, healthier foliage, and more flowers, which will produce even more delicious peppers! Apply it once per month, prepared according to the instructions provided on the product label. Don’t add more than you need to—this will make your plant grow faster than it should, resulting in weak, leggy growth.
Bushier peppers may not need structural support, particularly if grown next to a windbreak like a fence or a wall. However, many varieties will benefit from staking to keep them upright and prevent breakage on windy days.
Harvest your peppers as soon as they develop their rich color. If you’re growing peppers that remain green, such as jalapeños, then wait for the color to turn a deeper, darker shade of green. Many pepper varieties get hotter as they mature and turn a bright color, so feel free to experiment and harvest them according to your taste preference.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Peppers From Seed?
If you want to grow your peppers from seeds, we recommend starting them indoors 6–8 weeks before you intend to plant them outside. Wait until the daytime temperature consistently hovers around 70–85° before bringing them outside—late May or June is usually a safe time to bring them out. After planting your seedlings, depending on your chosen variety, they’ll need 2–3 months before they reach maturity and are ready for harvest. Purchasing starter plants will help speed up the process, but starting from seed will save money. Either method works well—it’s up to you which route you take!
Problems You May Encounter When Growing Peppers
While growing peppers typically isn’t very hard, you may run into some bumps in the road. Luckily, you can treat and prevent most pest or disease issues with natural methods.
The most common pepper pests are aphids and spider mites. While they can be small and tricky to spot, aphids leave behind a sticky residue, and spider mites create fine webbing throughout your plants. If you notice any of these signs, spring into action quickly! They are very destructive, and they can also spread disease. Apply a generous coating of organic insecticidal soap or neem oil spray. Follow up every 2–3 days until the pests are all gone.
If you notice suspicious discoloration or spots throughout your plants’ foliage, or, if you notice a powdery white coating, this is a telltale sign of fungal or bacterial infection. Many common pepper plant diseases, like bacterial leaf spot and powdery mildew, can be treated with a natural, copper-based fungicide. Remove all damaged parts of the plant and toss them in the garbage to prevent the disease from spreading to other plants.
Blossom end rot—which rots the ends of your fruits where the blossom once was—is usually caused by calcium deficiency. An organic fertilizer fortified with calcium is the best preventative.
Viral infections like Mosaic Virus and Verticillium Wilt are unfortunately incurable, but you can prevent them by practicing crop rotation and thoroughly sanitizing your containers and tools between use.
Ready to start growing peppers in California? Roger’s Gardens has a fantastic selection of different varieties—some mild, some super-spicy, and some with just the right amount of kick. Visit us soon to explore all the other delicious edibles that are ready to plant now.