See how to plant peppers, grow peppers, harvest peppers in your home garden from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Whether you prefer sweet peppers or hot, there’s none more satisfying than those you’ve grown yourself.
Growing Peppers from Sowing to Harvest
Sow pepper seeds in late winter or early spring, no more than two months before your last frost date. You may wish to wear gloves if handling hot pepper seeds. Sow into pots or flats of seed-starting mix, spacing seeds at least an inch apart. Cover with a little more seed starting mix. Water the seeds in using a fine spray.
Place pots or flats on a heat mat or into a heated propagator set to around 70ºF. If you don’t have either of these, secure clear plastic bags over your pots using a rubber band, then place them on a warm windowsill.
Remove covers once the seeds have germinated. Grow the seedlings on somewhere warm and bright. Grow lights will help give the seedlings a strong start, but they’re not essential.
After a few weeks, once the seedlings are big enough to handle, prick out the seedlings (holding them by their leaves, not their fragile stems) and replant in individual pots. Pot on once more if the roots fill their pots before they are ready for planting in their final positions.
Before planting peppers outdoors, acclimatize plants to outdoor conditions by placing them in a sheltered spot outside for gradually increasing periods over two weeks. Take care to avoid frosts. Plant out only after your last expected frost date has passed.
Plant peppers in a spot where they will get at least six hours of direct sunshine every day. The soil should have been improved with plenty of organic matter such as garden compost beforehand. Set plants at least 16 inches apart.
If planting into containers, they should be at least one-and-a-half gallons in volume and filled with good-quality potting soil enriched with added organic matter.
In cooler climates peppers will fruit earlier and better if they are grown in a greenhouse or hoop house. A sunroom or warm sunny windowsill will suffice.
Caring for Peppers
Keep plants upright by tying them to a cane or stake. Larger plants may need several canes.
Pinch out the growing points at the top once plants reach about 8 inches tall. This will encourage plants to become bushier, resulting in more fruits.
Once they start producing flower buds, begin feeding plants regularly. Use a tomato fertilizer or other liquid feed high in potassium. Keep plants well watered, as drying out can stress the plant and problems such as blossom end rot or leaf curl may develop. Place pots into tray or other reservoir to avoid water wastage. Any water that drains out will then be taken back up by the plant through the pot’s drainage holes.
Peppers are ready to harvest as soon as they have achieved their final color. Snip the stems of fruits with a sharp pair of clean pruners. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Chili peppers may also be dried then ground in a food processor to make chili flakes.
For more information on growing peppers, see our complete Almanac Peppers Growing Guide.
Ready to get started? Our Almanac Garden Planner will automatically calculate your sowing dates, your plant spacing, and more. Plus, you’ll get a free printable calendar with planting and harvesting dates that fit you.
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