Peppers are a very-tender vegetable that grow best in warm weather.
Peppers take a long time to grow from seed to harvest. In most areas there is not enough time to grow pepers from seeds before the weather gets too cold in the fall. Start seeds indoors 7-8 weeks before the frost date (7 weeks for bell peppers, 8 weeks for hot peppers), or purchase transplants.
Transplants should have 6-9 true leaves. Harden off and transplant into the garden 2 weeks after the frost date.
Peppers require average night time temperatures of 55°F to set fruit, so even in areas without frost it is unlikely you can grow them during the winter.
Soil and Fertilizer
Peppers grow best in a soil that drains well; amend with lots of compost and fertilizer (chemical or organic) at planting and once during the season.
Fertilizer: Apply 16-16-8 at planting. Apply a fertilizer low in nitrogen up to every 4 weeks. I like to use this Fertilome Blooming and Rooting (9-59-8), it really seems to promote flowering and fruiting of the plant.
Organic boosts: Save egg shells and allow them to dry. Combine 1 dozen egg shells with 1 gallon of water, allow to steep for 24 hours. Water the pepper plants and discard the egg shells (or add to your compost pile). Repeat as often as you wish, up to every 3 weeks.
Combine 2 Tablespoons Epsom salts (purchase in the shampoo section of the store) with 1 gallon of water. Apply to leaves via a spray bottle and/or pour on the soil, about 2 cups per plant. Repeat as often as you wish, up to every 3 weeks.
Peppers don’t require support unless they grow very large, or if you live in a windy area. In this case, stake the peppers by planting a 3-4′ stake in the ground at the time of planting. Tie the stem of the pepper plant to the stake with a soft material like old pantyhose or garden velcro tape.
Harvest fruits as they ripen. Peppers can be harvested when green, or after they turn yellow, red, purple, etc.
I plant my peppers 2 per square (think dice) and have always had good luck with them.
I use it for my tomatoes and peppers every 4-6 weeks.
Are you supposed to use the fertilome the whole growing cycle or only when the plant starts to set fruit?
It is magnesium sulfate, and peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes love the magnesium.
Can you tell me more about the epsom salt? What does that add to pepper plants or help prevent? Sounds like an easy-to-do suggestion, I’m just curious about why. Thanks!
Peppers are actually perennials. Some people have had luck saving their favorite hot pepper plants for 10 years or more. However, it is unlikely to truly survive outside during a freezing winter. If your plant has survived you can let it be, and it should be further along than if you started a fresh one that year. Many overwinter their peppers indoors by digging them out of the ground and cutting the stalks.
Overwintered plants can look pretty pathetic, but you may be surprised by how they bounce back. I suggest an internet search if you are interested in keeping your peppers growing. There is information abound at many of the obsessive pepper growers websites.
There are a few veggies that will keep growing and producing, but I don’t believe pepper plants will. I think you are best to pull them up and plant again.
I planted Jalapeno and Serrano plants in my Square Foot Garden last spring (2011). Both plants did great and produced lots of tasty peppers. It is January and both plant are a little sad looking but still alive and kicking.
Here are my questions: should I leave them be, cut them back, or pull them up? I live in the desert region of So Cal.
Doug–often caused by calcium deficiency. Crush 1 dozen eggs, add to 1 gallon of water and soak overnight. Water the plants with it.
My peppers are getting blossom end rot. What causes it and what can I do to prevent it?
I love this web site. I attempt gardens every year and some years are better than others. I love the box garden comcept and I am going to try it next year. I loved your tips of the epson salt and water mixture to spray on leaves. and the eggshell idea. Never would have thought of those ideas. Thank-you for sharing your wonderful concepts of gardening with us.
I am new to this site, and supremely pleased with the tips on how to make my plants thrive. I am especially pleased with the organic additions like egg shells… EGG SHELLS.. who knew!! YAY!
Wendy–maybe you should clean them, but I just let them dry, crush them up, and apply to peppers (and tomatoes) with fantastic results!
Peppers cannot freeze, but might survive 40s. What I’ve heard is that some very tender plants won’t die with near-freezing, but it may stunt their growth. But like you said, might as well put them in and see how they do!
I have 2 questions for you– I heard that the eggshells need to be cleaned of all the egg remnants before using the shells. Is this true? Seems silly to me, but I don’t want to kill my plants. I also heard eggshells are good for tomatoes, is this true?
Also, what is the low temperature that peppers can withstand? I planted them last week when it was warm but now it’s freezing again. I have been covering them at night when the temps are in the 40s but should I be basing my decision on whether or not it’s 50? They were starting to die in my house so I felt like I might as well plant them and give it a try…