How to Grow Hot Peppers

The heat of hot peppers is an acquired taste, but to many who enjoy them, the hotter the better. There are many types of hot peppers with varying degrees of heat, used to add a kick to recipes or in sauces and salsas. With so many hot pepper varieties available, connoisseurs might want to consider growing their own to be sure to get the type they prefer the most. With a knowledge of the needs of hot pepper plants, learning how to grow hot peppers can be an easy and fascinating planting project.


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    Choose the types of hot peppers you would like to grow based on the level of heat you desire.
    • Capsaicin is the chemical in hot pepper varieties that produces the heat. Hot peppers are rated with a Scoville score which indicates the amount of capsaicin in each variety.
    • Some favorite hot pepper varieties are cayenne, habanero, jalapeno, cherry bomb, anaheim, tabasco, paprika, Thai, chili, ghost and serrano.
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    Understand the planting conditions needed to learn how to grow hot peppers.
    • Moist soil, fertilizer and full sun make hot pepper plants thrive. Adding compost to the soil at the time of planting will give hot pepper plants a boost to help them grow. Seaweed is also a very good fertilizer for them to become big and spicy. The reason being is its antioxidants are absorbed into the soil and is helping the plant and the peppers grow. Kelp is good, but buy it from the store so it isn't salty but some seaweed from a freshwater lake or pond will do the trick.
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    Know when to pick the peppers. You also want to get the pepper off of a good stem. If it is from a weak stem, it may not have gotten enough nutrients from the plant itself.
    • A good time to pick a pepper is about three weeks after the flower is gone. It depends on what type of soil you have too. If you have sandy soil at your house, it is a little harder to pick the peppers at the right time, but in Florida and in the south, where the soil is more fertile, it may take less, but it all depends on what soil you have. Be aware of your soil and the way you pick the peppers.
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    Plant hot peppers at the best time of year for your area to help ensure the best results.
    • Pepper seeds take a long time to germinate and need to be planted 6 to 10 weeks prior to the last expected frost. Unless you live in a very warm climate, most areas are too cold to start seeds in the ground and should be started in containers indoors.
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    Space the seeds or young hot pepper plants 18 to 24 inches (45.7 to 61.0 cm) apart.
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    Add mulch around the hot pepper plants during growing season.
    • Mulch helps to keep the soil moist on hot summer days.
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    Remove any weeds that pop up from around the hot pepper plants.
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    Fertilize hot pepper plants at the time of planting and when they begin to produce.
    • Organic fertilizer is best, such as cow manure.
    • When using commercial fertilizer, choose one low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous and potassium for healthy hot pepper plants and optimal fruit production.
    • Keep the soil around the hot pepper plants moist throughout the growing season, being careful not to over-water.
    • Inconsistent watering can cause blooms to fall off the hot pepper plants.
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    Harvest and enjoy.


  • Depending on the types of hot peppers you plant, it takes 70 to 90 days for the peppers to mature. The seed packet or label on the pot of seedlings should indicate the growing time needed for the hot pepper varieties you plant.
  • As an alternative to germinating hot pepper seeds inside, you can purchase starter plants at nurseries or garden shops to put into the ground at the start of planting season.
  • Experiment by planting several types of hot peppers for a variety of heat levels and flavors.


  • When harvesting hot pepper varieties, wear gloves and avoid contact around your face and eyes to avoid burns.
  • Do not plant hot peppers until the chance of frost has past. Hot pepper plants do best in hot weather, and are very sensitive to cold.

Things You'll Need

  • Hot Pepper Seeds
  • Hot Pepper Plants
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch

Article Info

Categories: Growing Vegetables