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.

7 Tips for How to Grow Peppers

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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 two weeks after your 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 January. Begin hardening off transplants about 10 days before planting in late February and early March. Plant a second round of peppers during July if desired. 

How to grow peppers - 7 tips for growing peppers #growingpeppers #howtogrowpeppers #gardeninginarizona #peppers

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 square. Otherwise, plant peppers 18-24 inches apart. 

Peppers aren’t picky about what they are grown in; they grow well in containers, raised beds, and in the ground, but it’s important to provide a sunny location for peppers. 

During the hottest times of the summer in Arizona, you may need to provide shade for pepper plants.

How to grow peppers - 7 tips for growing peppers #growingpeppers #howtogrowpeppers #gardeninginarizona #peppers

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.

How to grow peppers - 7 tips for growing peppers #growingpeppers #howtogrowpeppers #gardeninginarizona #peppers

Tip #4 for How to Grow Peppers: Pay attention to the blossoms

Remove blossoms for first couple weeks to direct energy to growing plant. Once plant is growing well and has more blossoms, it is a good time to provide compost or organic fertilizer. Pull back mulch, spread fertilizer, and replace mulch. 

Epsom salt sprays are also beneficial to increase yield and overall health of the plant. Spray blossoms with an epsom salt solution (1 tablespoon epsom salts to 1 gallon water) when they first appear, and then spray again 10 days later. 

Keep in mind that with temperatures above 90° F and below 60° F, pollination may not occur because pollen in blossoms is not viable. During the hottest times of the year, thin-walled peppers do best.

Tip #5 for How to Grow Peppers: Harvest correctly and at the right time

To harvest peppers without breaking brittle branches, cut off with a knife or pruners leaving about an inch of stem to prolong storage life. Peppers can be harvested at any stage of development depending on your 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 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.

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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, soaking hand briefly in a 5 to 1 solution of water to bleach can turn oil into a salt that can be rinsed away.

Habanero peppers are hot! Handle with care

Tip #7 for How to Grow Peppers: Enjoy the harvest!

Harvested peppers can be stored on the counter for several days, or in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. 

How to grow peppers - 7 tips for growing peppers #growingpeppers #howtogrowpeppers #gardeninginarizona #peppers

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 drying, freezing, or pickling.

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Looking for a great way to use your freshly harvested jalapeños? This Pomegranate Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip is a family favorite.

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How to grow peppers - 7 tips for growing peppers #growingpeppers #howtogrowpeppers #gardeninginarizona #peppers
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30 Comments on How to Grow Peppers – Growing Peppers

  1. These are beautiful. Thank you for sharing. What are the purple peppers. I have never seen peppers of that color.

    Thank you

    • The purple peppers taste very similar to a green pepper. Not as sweet as a red or orange pepper. Unfortunately they lose their bright color when cooked, so I like to use them fresh.

    • Good question. I’m not sure. I would check with a local growing club, etc. to see what specific tips there are for growing peppers in the UK. Peppers do best with a long, warm, sunny growing season. Definitely start seeds indoors to give them a head start.

  2. Thanks for your sharing, it’s really helpful!
    I transplanted several pepper starts in this July, but the leaves start curling up and seems it stop growing. Is it because still too hot in AZ?

    • Yes, this has been a hot summer. Keep it alive. Once temps begin to dip down, give gangly branches a little prune. Give it some fertilizer and a good drink. Often our best pepper production time is in late fall.

  3. Question, do you overwinter your peppers? If so do you prune and protect in ground or do you dig them up? My pepper plants are so healthy and heavy producing this fall (despite the crazy summer) that I’m considering trying to keep them for next summer.

    • Yes, peppers seem to overwinter here pretty well. I cover them with burlap if we have a freeze. I’ve had pepper plants live for several years.

  4. Thank you for always sharing such good information. I have several varieties of pepper and tomato plants that are still producing quite a lot this winter, but the plants themselves are not looking so hot. They appear overgrown and are going in all directions. Would you recommended pruning them back and allowing them to kind of refresh prior to spring? I would of course prefer to keep them going, instead of starting new plants, as this is their 1st year in the ground. If so, how far back should I prune?

    • For your peppers, wait until danger of frost is past (usually mid to late February) and then give them a good pruning. Look for new growth on the stems and cut just above it. Give it a good dose of compost, a little organic fertilizer, and a good drink after pruning. For the tomatoes if they are diseased I would replant (in a different location) after danger of frost is passed. If they are just a little haggard but overall healthy, you can prune them back the same way you did the peppers, feeding them afterwards.

  5. I need to move a purple bell pepper plant. It has grown completely wonky in and among slatted metal so it needs to be “cut up” and started from the branches if possible. How and when do I do this in Phoenix for the best result? It is 3-4′ in height and 3′ in width.

    • That’s a big plant. After danger of frost has passed if you want to cut it back much smaller that would be the best thing. I wouldn’t move it. You could try rooting one of the branches, but I believe that branch would need to be actively growing.

  6. Hi Angela,
    I started my pepper plants indoors in late December. They’ve only produced the first set of adult leaves (4 leaves total). I am keeping them under a grow light and hope they will have a boost soon. Do you think they’re stunted? Just wondering if I should get some transplants.

    Thanks for your help! I look forward to your tomato class on the 13th.

    • That does seem pretty small. Have you tried feeding them with a diluted liquid organic fertilizer? If it were me I would probably do both, keep going with the seedlings and buy a transplant or two just to be sure. Glad you can come to the class, I’m looking forward to it!

  7. I planted several vegetables in October, and the vegetables that survived were bell peppers, grape tomatoes and spinach. I was pleasantly surprised that after I harvested the peppers the plants were full of bugs, I cut off the leaves and noticed there was new leaves , two weeks later the plants have new buds. I planted spinach again two weeks ago and they’re all coming up as well, the grape tomatoes are still producing. I am so excited with my little garden and thank you for your sound and useful advice. This is my first time I have planted a garden and I feel fortunate to have grown some vegetables since I live in South Arizona with extreme high temperatures. Thanks again.

  8. I’ve got a jalapeno plant that seems to be constantly dehydrated. 🙁 Do they need to be given more shade than the “full sun” instructions it came with would suggest?

    Utter newbie to this. Thank you for the supremely helpful website!!

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