Ever tried a fully-ripened, garden-grown pepper? If you think you don’t like peppers, tasting one just might change your mind. Peppers come in all sizes, shapes, and colors and range from sweet to fiery hot. Learn how to grow peppers and plant a few varieties to spice up your garden.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.
7 Tips for How to Grow Peppers
Tip #1 for How to Grow Peppers:
Start seeds indoors or buy transplants
Pepper plants require a long, warm growing season. Start pepper seeds indoors 6 – 8 weeks before your last spring frost. Seeds should sprout in 10 – 20 days at 75°F – 85°F. Plant outside 2 weeks after your last frost date; the soil should be at least 65°F. Test soil temperature using a soil thermometer. Pepper seeds are available at Seedsnow.com.
In the low desert of Arizona, start seeds indoors in late December or early February and again May – July. Begin hardening off transplants about 10 days before planting in late February – April. Plant a second round of peppers from July 15 – September if desired.
Tip #2 for How to Grow Peppers:
Plant peppers correctly
Pepper plants do best in well-draining soil amended with compost. Plant peppers deeply, so bottom leaves on stem are just above the soil to promote root development.
When square foot gardening, plant 1 pepper per 1-2 squares. Otherwise, plant peppers 18-24 inches apart.
Peppers grow well in containers, raised beds, grow bags, and in the ground.
Plant peppers in an area that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.
During the hottest times of the summer in Arizona, you may need to provide shade for pepper plants.
Tip #3 for How to Grow Peppers:
Provide support for growing peppers and mulch well
Pepper plants are brittle and need support as they grow; a wire cage or trellis works well for this purpose.
Pepper plants require well-draining soil, but also plenty of water, especially in the hottest times of the year.
A thick layer of mulch around plants helps retain moisture and cools the soil a bit for the growing peppers.
Tip #4 for How to Grow Peppers:
Pay attention to the blossoms
Remove blossoms for the first couple of weeks to direct energy to growing the plant. Once the plant is growing well and has more flowers, it is an excellent time to provide compost or organic fertilizer. Pull back mulch, spread fertilizer, and replace the mulch.
Keep in mind that with temperatures above 90°F and below 60°F, pollination may not occur because pollen in blossoms is not viable.
Tip #5 for How to Grow Peppers:
Harvest correctly and at the right time
To harvest peppers without breaking brittle branches, cut off with pruning shears, leaving about an inch of stem to prolong storage life.
Peppers can be harvested at any stage of development depending on your taste preference with that particular pepper. Peppers left to mature on the vine will normally turn from green – to yellow – to orange – and then red. As color changes, the flavor and vitamins increase as well.
Pick peppers often to encourage production. Peppers left too long on the plant will be soft and shriveled looking, and should be removed from the plant.
Peppers are frost-sensitive; harvest fruits before frost. If frost is expected, cover plants to protect from frost. In Arizona, it is possible for pepper plants to over-winter if weather is mild.
Tip #6 for How to Grow Peppers:
Be careful when handling peppers
Peppers contain capsaicin, an oily compound that produces heat. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin the peppers contain. Use gloves when handling hot peppers; do not touch eyes or nose as capsaicin can burn skin.
If a burn occurs, soak in milk or wash hands with dish soap in cool water.
Tip #7 for How to Grow Peppers:
Enjoy the harvest!
Harvested peppers can be stored on the counter for a day or two.
Peppers stored in these Rubbermaid Freshworks containers will keep for weeks in the fridge.
There are as many different ways to enjoy and prepare peppers as there are varieties of peppers. Peppers are delicious eaten fresh, roasted, or stuffed. Preserve extras by freeze-drying, drying, freezing, or pickling.
Looking for a great way to use your freshly-harvested jalapeños? This Pomegranate Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip is a family favorite.
Peppers come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, ranging from sweet to fiery hot. In this article, learn how to grow peppers and plant a few varieties to spice up your garden.
Knowing how and when to prune peppers in mild-winter climates is essential to keeping them healthy and productive for many years. Learn how in this blog post.
Friday 20th of January 2023
I will like to know if I can use sawdust for mulching or not for my pepper and tomatoes plants? Thank you.
Saturday 21st of January 2023
I haven't used sawdust before - but many people do. Here is a blog post with more information: https://growinginthegarden.com/mulching-your-garden-what-to-use-how-to-use-it/
Thursday 10th of February 2022
Hopefully this is my last question for a while. :) I'm planning on growing peppers in a container & see that you mention that parsley can be added as a companion plant. I wasn't sure if that applies to container gardening since it seems like peppers like more water than parsley? Again, muchisimas gracias for your help!
Sunday 20th of February 2022
@Angela Judd, thanks so much for you help. Happy planting!
Friday 18th of February 2022
Hi Eva, they con be grown in the same container.
Friday 28th of January 2022
I have had jalapeno plants for 2 full seasons in AZ and both crops have been wonderful. Should I leave them and try to get another crop or start with new plants for this spring? If I leave them should I prune them back and if so when? Thank you so much for all you share it is my go to for AZ gardening!
Monday 31st of January 2022
Hi Lindsay - If they are still healthy I think you could get one more season out of them. I would wait a couple weeks to make sure we are past frost and then give them a good trim. 'd
Monday 10th of January 2022
I cannot get enough of your articles. They are so helpful. I'm from the Midwest and have been struggling. With your information I have hope now for a better garden. I can only grow in containers because I have a small yard. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Tuesday 11th of January 2022
So glad the articles have been helpful! Best of luck to you with your garden!
Monday 18th of October 2021
I will grow malagueta peppers this season
Monday 18th of October 2021