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Growing Peppers Successfully

When and How Do I Transplant My Pepper Plants?

Plant when night temperatures stay above 55 degrees (60 degrees better for habaneros and SuperHots).
Peppers will perform poorly if they get cold at night; any 40s is detrimental.

Plant in the evening, or on a cloudy day. Pick a spot that receives lots of sun, is well-drained, and has good air circulation.
In regions with high summer temps, locate plants where they will receive shade from hot late afternoon sun.

At the nursery, we soak the roots/soil/pot with a solution of 2 Tablespoons each of fish emulsion and seaweed per gallon of water for 5 minutes and plant immediately. Then, no more water. The plants are already wet. Use excess soaking liquid on other plants.

Dig a hole bigger than the size of pot. Roots prefer loose soil. Make a cone shaped mound at the bottom of the hole.

Remove plant from pot by gently squeezing the sides and bottom. Put your fingers on top of soil, with the stem between your fingers. Turn the pot over, and gently tap the bottom of the pot; the entire plant and root ball should slide out easily.

With a knife or your fingers, cut an "X" approx.1 inch deep in the bottom of the root ball. Turn the plant stem side up, and gently extend the 4 "legs" down, so that all the roots are now pointing down.

Place the transplant into the hole straddling the cone shaped mound of soil, with the legs pointing in 4 directions (North, East, South and West).

Backfill. Gently pat down the soil

Ring plants with Granular Organic fertilizer and scratch in.

Cover soil with a thick 5 inch layer of a grass type mulch like straw. Or hay on top of sections of newspaper. By using mulch you will not need to water. Weeds won’t grow. Plants are happy. You're done!

How Do I Get The Soil Ready For Planting?

Healthy plants need healthy soil. The extra effort put into preparing the soil will be repaid handsomely with extra health and yield of the plant.

For a new garden, dig at least 12 inches deep and add lots of organic matter. This includes compost, shredded dried leaves, peat moss and dehydrated cow manure. Don't skimp on the organic matter.

For existing gardens, do not plant peppers (and/or tomatoes and/or eggplants) in the same spot more than once every 3 years. This lessens the chance of your plants becoming susceptible to disease.

If planting in the same location every year, you must add lots of organic matter to your garden every year, more than the amount of production that you took from your garden the year before. Don't skimp on organic matter.

Extremely helpful is our Granular Organic fertilizer, which will add essential nutrients to your garden and make up for any soil deficiencies. 

How Far Apart Should I Plant My Pepper Plants?

Plant peppers 18-24 inches apart with rows 18-36 inches apart. Plant in a staggered formation.

Spacing will vary depending on the ultimate height of the plants. Shorter, compact plants can be planted closer than taller plants. Taller varieties need more spacing for good air flow.


When and How Do I Fertilize My Pepper Plants?

We use organic fertilizers on all of our plants.

Organic fertilizers promote the good bacteria and soil microorganisms which are essential for good plant health. They encourage earthworms and other soil organisms which are good at aerating and loosening the soil. They make soils better and better each year! This is the way to grow.

Inorganic fertilizers damage the soil, contribute to nitrogen runoff which pollutes our rivers, as well as repel the good organisms which we need for healthy soils. Stick with organic fertilizers!

Granular Organic fertilizer is the best for pepper production. It is a dry product that offers longer term nutrition, and especially helpful in wet seasons. To facilitate increased production, transplants need solid food to encourage rapid but strong growth. We LOVE it.

Seaweed aka Kelp#3 is wonderful for all plants, to keep them healthy. Use 2 Tablespoons per gallon of water, once a week for 3 weeks ( the 1st application is the soak immediatley prior to planting), then monthly. Seaweed is full of many micronutrients, a sort of multivitamin for plants. It also helps combat the stresses that plants are subjected to, such as heat, drought, and insect attack. It is wonderful stuff!

Granular Organic fertilizer is especially necessary for container grown plants that are watered more frequently, leaching away nutrition. We topdress this fertilizer (4 Tablespoons per plant) at the dripline of the plant in our planting beds and in our larger containers, and find that it increases our yields tremendously.

We also use Granular Organic fertilizer while up-potting to get the plants larger quicker. Info about up-potting.

The key factor for an abundant harvest is proper fertilization.

What Pepper Plants Would Do Best In My Area?

Most peppers will do well in most areas of the country. Know the length of your season.
Peppers that require an Extremely Late Growing Season (120+ days) may not produce well in northern areas.

Extreme northern areas with short growing seasons need Early Season varieties = varieties that produce in the shortest amount of time. In short growing season areas it is important to push your plants by using Granular Organic fertilizer to make them grow, grow, grow!

In areas where summer are extremely hot however, with day temps normally over 90 degrees, peppers may stop producing. Include varieties in these areas that are Early Season (60-70 days) or Mid Season (70-80 days), so that they produce a crop before the temps get too high and production stops.

In extremely hot areas it is best to located the garden where the plants will receive shade from the hot late afternoon sun, to help keep the night air temps cooler. Another alternative is to plant later in the season, so that you will get a late season crop. If temps stay above freezing, plants will overwinter and start producing early the next season.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Pepper In My Area?

Plant peppers when night temps will stay above 55 degrees and the ground is warm.
Plant tropical varieties like SuperHots, Habaneros, Very/Extremely Late Season, when nights are above 60 degrees.

Young plants thrive on warm soil, especially at night, when they grow. Young plants hate being cold. They catch a chill that stresses them and makes them more susceptible to disease. Planting too early will produce very unsatisfactory results. this will actually lose you time to harvest, as the plants are set back and may become "stunted" which means that they don't die but they don't grow. Never plant early.

See our Safe Planting Date Map to know when to plant. Never plant early. Nights above 55 degrees.

To warm your soil, place black or clear plastic down where your garden will be, a few weeks before planting, to allow the sun to heat up the soil. Not necessary, but helpful.

If you need to hold for more than a week or so, up-pot the plants into a slightly larger 4-6 inch pot using potting soil (we DO NOT recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix), and keep dry. If they will remain in these larger pots for more than 2-3 weeks, fertilize with low levels of organic fertilizer weekly.


What Size Container Is The Best To Get Good Production?

5 gallon minimum, 10-15 gallon preferred for decent production.
Rule of thumb... the larger the pod, the larger the pot. For example while small fruiting varieties like ornamentals do well in a small 1-2 gallon pot, a large fruiting variety like a bell needs a very large pot.

Never plant a small plant directly into a large pot. A small plant has small roots and few leaves. If planted into a large pot, and that pot gets soaked by rain/hose, the dry potting mix will get drenched. A small plant will have a hard time transpiring away all that moisture, and will grow very slowly, or may even drown. Up-potting is extra work but it encourages a larger root system and ultimately a stronger, larger plant.

  • First up-pot into a slightly larger 4 inch diameter pot using a regular potting mix (we Do Not recommend Miracle Gro Potting Mix as it produces tall lush foliage and little fruit). We always soak our plants in a fish emulsion and seaweed solution immediately prior to planting, and then do not water after planting. We open the roots and set at the same soil level, and cover with potting soil. Topdress with our Organic Granular fertilizer, using 1 teaspoon per 4 inch container, around the edge of the pot and buried just slightly. We grow out for 2 weeks.

  • Then up-pot into a 6 inch container, doing the fish/seaweed soak and this time using 1 Tablepoon of Organic Granular fertilizer per 6 inch container, topdressed around the edge and buried just slightly. We grow out for 3 weeks.
  • When safe to plant out, we have a larger and stronger plant, that will begin harvesting earlier than if we planted out a small plant. We then use 1/2+ cup of Organic Granular fertilizer topdressed at the dripline of the plant (which is the outside edge of the leaves, making a circle on the ground). We then cover the soil with a thick 5 inch layer of a grass mulch like hay or straw.

  • How Can I get More Production From My Pepper Plants?

    Wait until the night air is above 55 degress, 60 degrees better, before planting out.

    Up-pot earlier, to have a larger plant to plant out. Up-pot into a 4 inch pot to start, then a 6 inch pot. Keep in lots of light.

    Fertilize with Organic Granular fertilizer.

    Water as little as possible. Every time you water, say goodbye to fertilizer, as it is leached away. Hungry plants don't produce.

    Use a 5 inch layer of a grass-type mulch like straw, and don't water. Check water by digging down 5-6 inches and feeling.

    Cut them back. Many Pepper Plants will benefit from being cut back, especially Chiltepines, Habaneros, Rocotos and Ajis. This will make the plant branch/bush out, making more stems and branches, which means more nodes for fruit production. You will cut the plant in half... ie. 8 inches cut to 4 inches. Make a clean cut just above a node. When you cut back, you will also cut back on watering since foliage will be removed. Cutting back may delay harvest by a week or two, but you will be repaid handsomely with extra harvest, usually double.

    Next: Growing Tomatoes Successfully >

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