How to Grow Peppers

Three Methods:Preparing Your GardenGrowing Your Peppers from SeedsPlanting Your Peppers

From crisp and sweet to small and spicy, there are countless varieties of peppers to choose from. Whether you choose to start your plants from seedlings or buy healthy transplants, you can grow peppers of all varieties in your own backyard! Follow the steps below to learn how to prep your garden, plant your peppers, and take care of them for years to come.

Method 1
Preparing Your Garden

  1. 1
    Choose a variety of peppers. There are many types of peppers available on the market, and you can choose which kind to grow depending on the size, color, and level of spice your desire.
    • Bell peppers, also called sweet peppers, are the most mild of all the pepper varieties. They come in shades of red, orange, yellow, and green and tend to be about the size of a fist. Grow these to eat raw or add to many dishes.
    • Hot peppers come in many different varieties. The most mild of all the hot peppers is the anaheim pepper, but other popular varieties include the jalapeno and the serrano pepper.[1]
  2. 2
    Select a patch for your garden. Choose an area in your yard with full sunlight and good drainage.
    • You will grow the largest peppers in full sunlight, but they can grow in a bed that has a little shade. Avoid planting peppers in an area in complete shade.
    • If your soil is very rocky or tends to flood in the rain, consider building a raised bed for your peppers.
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    Test the pH of the soil. Peppers grow best in a soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7.0. Err on the high side of the pH scale, however, as peppers can withstand slightly alkaline conditions.
    • If your soil is too acidic, add limestone or wood ash to neutralize the pH.
    • If your soil is too alkaline, add pine needles or peat moss to neutralize the pH.
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    Prepare your soil. Mix fertilizer into your soil and remove any rocks and separate any large chunks in the dirt.
    • Fertilizers include fishmeal, chicken manure, or a pre-mixed fertilizer available for purchase at a local gardening center.
    • Hand pick any weeds that may be present to prevent them from overrunning your pepper patch.

Method 2
Growing Your Peppers from Seeds

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    Find the right time to grow. Different varieties of peppers take different amounts of time to grow, so check your pepper species to find out. Hot peppers take the longest - about 12 weeks until maturity - while bell peppers take about 8 weeks to reach maturity.
    • Peppers don’t grow in cold or frosty soil, so wait to plant them until the weather has warmed enough.
    • Plant peppers outside at least one month after your last day of frost for the best temperature of soil.
    • Choose a date that you feel matches the temperature requirements of outdoor soil for you peppers, and count back 8-10 weeks from that date; this is when you will start your seedlings. Memorial day is typically a good time to plant peppers, meaning that you start your seeds in early March.
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    Soak your seeds. Soaking your seeds can help to break down the seed covering and expedite the growing process of the peppers. Place the seeds in a cup of water and leave them for 2-8 hours, or until the sink to the bottom of the cup.
    • Make a cup of weak chamomile tea to aid in disinfecting the seeds. Soak the entire time in the cup of cooled tea to help dissolve the seed coating even faster.
    • Mix two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide with a cup of lukewarm water to soak the seeds in if chamomile tea is unavailable. It too aids in disinfecting the seeds.
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    Sow your seeds in a seed tray. They will only stay in this tray until they’re ready to plant, so don’t worry about using anything too nice or fancy.
    • Use a store-bought seed tray for the easiest place to sow your seeds, or make your own using an old plastic or cardboard milk jug with holes poked in the bottom.[2]
    • Fill the bottom of the seed tray with pebbles or small rocks and then cover with potting soil.
    • Plant seeds half an inch apart just under the surface of the soil, and water well.
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    Use lights to help the seeds grow. Peppers need a lot of sunlight, but the seeds can’t get enough sun from a window indoors. Instead, use any large light (it doesn’t have to be hot) and place it as close to the seedlings as possible.
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    Harden off your seedlings when they are four to six inches tall. Pepper plants are delicate and need to be gradually exposed to a colder outdoor environment before they are transplanted entirely.
    • About two weeks before you plan to transfer your plants outdoors, you need to gradually expose the plants to the outdoor climate.
    • Start by placing your seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day, and slowly extend the number of hours the plants stay outside as they continue to grow.
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    Prepare your seedlings to plant outdoors. When the peppers have grown two sets of full leaves, they are large enough to be planted outside.[3]

Method 3
Planting Your Peppers

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    Plant your peppers. Space each plant between 12–18 inches (30.5–45.7 cm) apart, and insert stakes to help the plant stand up if necessary.
    • This is the same process if you grow your peppers from seeds or if you transplant a store-bought pepper plant.
    • Plant the peppers as deep in the garden soil as they were in the pots, only adding a minimal amount of soil to the tops.
    • Space rows of peppers about 10–15 inches (25.4–38.1 cm) apart.[4]
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    Water the plants. Peppers especially need frequent watering, so be sure to make sure the soil they are planted in is always moist.
    • Water them for the first time with the chamomile tea or hydrogen peroxide mixture, as this will help to disinfect the soil that you planted the peppers in.
    • The soil can be dry at times, but pepper plants will produce the largest most succulent fruit when given a regular watering of a few tablespoons per each plant.
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    Add mulch to the soil. This will add nutrients that help the peppers to grow, and help to block out some weeds from taking root immediately.
    • Straw and grass clippings make great mulch for pepper plants.
    • Add a layer about two inches thick to all of the soil between and around each pepper plant.
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    Pull any weeds by hand. If weeds pop up through the mulch, pull them gently by hand to avoid damaging the roots of the pepper plants. Weeds compete with your plants for space and nutrients and therefore should be removed from the planting area.
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    Fertilize your pepper plants if necessary. Slow growth or the appearance of pale leaves are indicators that your pepper plants need fertilizing. Choose a high nitrogen fertilizer such as fish emulsion or compost tea and spread an even coating over the planting area. Water thoroughly after fertilizing to aid absorption.
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    Harvest your peppers! Usually, peppers take around two months to mature enough to be harvested. To encourage your pepper plant to keep producing early in the season, harvest your peppers just before peak ripeness.
    • Later on in the season when your plant is nearing the end of the production season, however, you can allow them to mature a bit longer before harvesting. The richer the color, the riper the fruit.
    • Cut the pepper at the top of the stem. Pulling on your peppers can damage the fragile stalks and roots.
    • If you are expecting a frost, be sure to pick all of the fruit, even if it is a bit under-ripe. A frost will damage any leftover fruit.[5]
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  • If you choose to buy transplants, select seedlings that are dark in color with strong stems. Also avoid transplants that already have peppers growing on them, as these tend to produce less in the long run.
  • You can place a cardboard collar around the base of each stem to protect plants from cutworms.
  • Place hot caps over young plants if the weather is cold and rainy.
  • Crop rotation and resistant cultivars are the best defense against most pepper diseases.


  • Hot temperatures over 90 °F (32 °C) can hurt your pepper plants. Plant your peppers in an area where other taller plants will shade them during the hottest time of the day if high temperatures are a possibility.

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Categories: Growing Vegetables