How to Grow Your Own Positively Perfect Peppers
If you ask us, peppers are among the most fun plants to grow. Why? The variety, of course!
From the tongue-searing serrano to the sweet bell, peppers come in all shapes, sizes and levels of spiciness. And the culinary applications of peppers are equally varied—raw snacks, pizza toppings, curry pastes and much more. As if that’s not enough, peppers are good for you, too, offering carotene, vitamin C, antioxidants and other nutrients.
So have we convinced you to grow peppers yet?
Just imagine how convenient it would be to have peppers growing right outside your door. With Tower Garden, growing peppers is easier than ever—there’s no digging, watering or weeding, and pests and disease problems are less likely. (Plus, you’ll probably get more peppers faster than if you were to grow them in soil!)
Read on to learn how to grow your own peppers.
Fun fact: Did you know capsaicin, the signature “spicy” molecule in chilies, actually tricks your brain into thinking your tongue is literally burning? Thus, the spiciness!
Picking a Pepper Variety
In 1912, Wilbur Scoville, a pharmacist, devised a scale to measure the spicy heat of chili peppers. Though the variety of peppers continues to grow, the Scoville scale is still commonly referenced today.
Here’s a look at the spiciness levels of a few common types of peppers.
Not sure which pepper is right for you? Consider the following:
- Sweet Peppers. The most common kind of peppers, sweet peppers come in many forms, but all are known for their mild flavor. Bell peppers—named for the bell shape of their fruit—are the most recognizable.
- Mildly Hot Peppers. Though these peppers are officially considered hot, they’re often described as having just a little bite to them. Peppers that fall into this category include poblano, Anaheim, paprika and pepperoncini.
- Medium Hot Peppers. If mildly hot peppers are too meek for your taste buds, but you’re not sure you can handle the heat of really hot peppers, then medium hot peppers, such as jalapeño, red Fresno and Hungarian wax peppers, might be just right.
- Hot Peppers. Some like it hot! Hot peppers will bring tears to your eyes and make you break out into a sweat. Thai chili and habaneros are examples of hot peppers.
So many choices! The good news is you can grow any variety of pepper with Tower Garden.
The best time to transplant peppers is after all chance of frost has passed (which can be as late as mid-May or early June, depending on where you’re located), or when daytime temperatures consistently reach 70–90°F.
That said, you can start your pepper seeds indoors a few weeks before your expected final frost date to get a jumpstart on the growing season.
When starting peppers, plant about two seeds per rock wool cube. Seeds should germinate within 14 days.
Seedlings are ready to transplant once they’ve grown three inches tall and have a visible root structure. At this time, you should cut and remove the weakest seedlings in each cube, leaving the strongest, healthiest plants to continue growing.
Tower Tip: For step-by-step instructions on starting seeds and transplanting seedlings, reference page 7 of the Tower Garden Growing Guide.
Pepper plants can get relatively large, so we recommend planting them in the middle or bottom of your Tower Garden.
Like their close relatives, tomatoes and eggplant, peppers love the sun. Be sure your pepper plants get at least eight hours of direct sunlight daily. And keep an eye on the temperature. Plant growth will slow if temperatures dip below 55°F on any given day. (And it might take a few days for them to start growing normally again.)
Common Pepper Problems
Like most crops, peppers are vulnerable to pests and disease. Fortunately, growing plants off the ground in a Tower Garden is one of the best ways to avoid these problems.
But for good measure, here are a few things to watch for:
- Leaf Spot
- Powdery Mildew
Another thing to keep in mind with peppers (and all other fruiting plants) is pollination. Since pepper flowers are self-fertile, even a light breeze can facilitate pollination. But if you’re growing in a greenhouse, consider hand pollinating to ensure a successful yield.
Ready to enjoy your homegrown peppers? They should be ready to harvest two to three months after planting. But consider the following:
- Most peppers change color (usually green to another color, such as red or purple) when they’re ripe. As the color of the fruit changes, so does the flavor.
- Peppers don’t continue to ripen once you remove them from the plant. So leave them attached until they’re as ripe as you want them.
- It’s perfectly fine to harvest peppers before they reach full maturity. (This is common for some varieties, such as jalapeños, which will actually turn red if left to fully mature.)
To harvest, make a cut above the cap of the pepper with a clean knife or shears, leaving a portion on the stem still attached.
As we already mentioned, there are many ways to enjoy your peppers. (Here are a few ideas!) But if you find you have more peppers than you can use right away, simply wash, dry, cut and freeze them to preserve your harvest for another day.
Tower Tip: Want more plant tips? Browse our growing guides »
Over to You
We hope you’ve found this pepper growing guide helpful! If you have any questions, please ask them below, and we’ll be happy to answer.
Speaking of questions, we’ve got one for you: Do you prefer spicy or sweet peppers?
Let’s chat in the comments!
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