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6 June 2018

This guide will show you how to grow chili peppers of all types in your own home garden and includes answers to many of your growing questions, such as pepper plant spacing, sun needs, length of growing season, chili pepper growing tips and more.

Let’s talk about growing chili peppers. Chili peppers start off a bit slow, so it is helpful to start to grow your plants indoors a few weeks (anywhere from 8-12 weeks) before transferring them outside. Keep the early soil and budding plants constantly moist, but do not over water.

Keep them warm (80 -85 degrees F is best) and in a sunlit place. If this is your first time growing your chili peppers from seeds, learn more about growing chili peppers from seed.

Once there is no worry of frost, you can plant your pepper plants to your garden or chosen spot. Choose a location with full sunlight, as chili peppers LOVE the sun. Mix in some mushroom compost or other organic compost to make the soil fertile and moist.

Growing Chili Peppers

How much space do peppers need to grow?

Space the chili pepper plants 18 – 36 inches apart with about 2 -3 feet between rows. The plants will eventually grow to nearly 3 feet high.

Water! Keep the soil constantly moist, but not soaking wet. Chili peppers love water as much as they love sun, but you don’t want to inundate the plants, or you run the risk of rotting. Water every other day or every third day. Include a good plant food product. Learn more about growing chili peppers in the ground or garden.

Keep your chili pepper garden well weeded. You don’t want nasty weeds stealing the water from your chili peppers.

Learn more about growing and harvesting chili peppers through the links below, including:

Best Soil for Growing Chili Peppers

Choose a good quality soil or potting mix for growing your pepper that allows for good drainage. Add compost or manure before planting if you’d like.

Watering Your Pepper Plants

As with growing chili peppers in general, keep the soil moist but do not overwater them. For pepper plants in pots or containers, do not let the soil dry out completely. When peppers start to grow, cut back on your watering schedule a bit, but again, do not let the soil dry out.

Growing Chili Peppers - Chili Peppers Love Water

Optimal Growing Temperature for Growing Chili Peppers

The ideal growing temperature for chili pepper plants is between 70-90 F (21-32 C).

Best Fertilizer for Growing Chili Peppers

Tomato fertilizers work well for chili pepper plants, as do compost and well-rotted manure. A good 5-10-10 fertilizer is usually sufficient for peppers. Work it into the soil before transplanting, about 3 pounds per 100 square feet. We use a solution of fish emulsion and seaweed.

Once the peppers begin to appear, fertilize one more time. You can also use manure or compost, which releases more slowly into the soil. Much, however, is affected by your soil, so you may want to consider a soil test if you are having issues.

Diseases and Pests That Affect Pepper Plants

Stay vigilant with your pepper plants. Keep a constant eye out for common diseases like bacterial spot, mildew or rotting. Pests like aphids or spiders are common as well, so watch out for them.

Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Chili Peppers

I get a lot of questions about growing chili peppers. Here are some of the most frequent.

Do chili plants need sun or shade?

Chili peppers grow nicely in full sun. They will grow in partial shade, but they won’t be as productive. A sunny spot is best. I have very successfully grown many varieties of chili peppers under my backyard deck, which is about 12 feet high. There is partial shade, but the garden gets a good dose of sunlight, so they grow very well.

How long does it take to grow peppers?

The length of growing time for chili peppers varies from pepper to pepper, though most mature in 60-150 days, which is a big range. Sweeter peppers typically mature in 60-90 days, with hotter peppers taking longer.

Consider, though – the number of days to maturity noted on seed packets means h the days after transplanting until the pepper plant bears mature peppers. It does not take into consideration the time it takes from planting seeds to growing into a seedling that you can transplant, which is about 8-10 weeks, so keep this in mind.

How long does a pepper plant take to bear fruit?

The length of time for chili pepper plants to start bearing peppers varies from pepper to pepper, though most mature in 60-150 days, which is a big range. Sweeter peppers typically mature in 60-90 days, with hotter peppers taking longer, up to 150 days.

Growing Chili Peppers - This is a New Mexican variety from my garden.
Growing Chili Peppers – This is a New Mexican variety from my garden.

What is the best food for chili pepper plants?

A good 5-10-10 fertilizer is usually sufficient for peppers. Work it into the soil before transplanting, about 3 pounds per 100 square feet. We use a solution of fish emulsion and seaweed.

Once the peppers begin to appear, fertilize one more time. You can also use manure or compost, which releases more slowly into the soil. Much, however, is affected by your soil, so you may want to consider a soil test if you are having issues.

How long can you keep chili plants?

Most chili pepper plants will only last a season in your garden, but if you transplant them and bring them indoors, and treat them to good conditions, you can keep them through the year and possibly longer. Some people have reported keeping their pepper plants for 3 years or longer.

Can you save seeds from your chili pepper plants and use them to grow plants later?

Absolutely! As a chili pepper grower, you may want to save the seeds from your current batch of chili peppers rather than purchase new seeds each year. Saving seeds also saves money, and ensures your harvest will include your very favorite peppers from season to season.

Luckily for us, chili peppers lend themselves to easy seed saving. Harvesting the seeds is a simple process, and they require very little effort to dry and store.

Learn how to save seeds from fresh peppers to grow later

Space your chili pepper plants properly for an optimal harvest. This is a shot from my garden.
Space your chili pepper plants properly for an optimal harvest. This is a shot from my garden.

Chili Pepper Growing Tips

For successfully growing peppers, keep these growing tips in mind.

Do Not Over Water Your Pepper Plants

Pepper plants love their water, of course, and they need a steady supply, but peppers won’t grow well in overly saturated soil. It waterlogs their roots. Use soil that retains moisture yet has proper drainage. Mulch is useful to prevent water evaporation.

If you are uncertain about watering, don’t. Never over-water. Most diseases and growing problems are due to overwatering.

Do Not Overfertilize Your Pepper Plants

Using a lot of fertilizer may help the pepper plant to develop bright leaves and flowers, but hinders pepper production. A good 5-10-10 fertilizer is usually sufficient for peppers. Work it into the soil before transplanting. We use a solution of fish emulsion and seaweed.

Pinch Your Pepper Plants for Bushier Plants

When the pepper plant is about six inches high, clipping the growing tip will result in a bushier plant. Remove any flowers that appear early, as the early flowers diminish the plants overall energy.

Pinch Flowers off of Early Pepper Plants for Bushier Plants
Pinch Flowers off of Early Pepper Plants for Bushier Plants

Got any further questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. Feel free to contact me anytime and I will do my best to answer your questions. — Mike H.

A Guide to Growing Chili Peppers - This guide will show you how to grow chili peppers of all types in your own home garden and includes answers to many of your growing questions, such as pepper plant spacing, sun needs, length of growing season, chili pepper growing tips and more. | ChiliPepperMadness #GrowingPeppers #GrowingChiliPeppers #Gardening

32 comments

  1. I’m growing a Chile piquín plant and also a Chile de árbol plant bought at a nursery in the Los Angeles area. They are both flowering a lot but nothing is sticking (growing). I did not fertilize before planting. Any suggestions?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      David, I’m not sure what zone you’re in, but if it’s early in your season, you can pick off the flowers to give the plant time to grow more and strengthen enough to support peppers. Add some mulch to the top of the soil to hold in moisture. Fertilize for the first 2-3 weeks, once/week, and see if that helps.

  2. Hi,
    I planted my seeds months ago because I have a very limited growing season under grow lamps. I have quite a few plants but have not have any flowers or fruits on them. I am considering moving them outside soon as we recently had our last frost (I hope). Any suggestions on what to do for them to start producing flowers/fruits? They are currently about 3 inches high.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Carla, I wouldn’t move them outside until the temps are above 55 degrees and warmer. Make sure to fertilize the seedlings lightly at planting, then one a week for a couple weeks. Give them plenty of sun, and don’t overwater, but keep the ground very slightly moist, not wet. Good luck!

  3. Can i use neem oil on my chillie plant to get rid of bugs could you please tell me how to mix and apply

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      You can try it, Naim. Just be sure to follow the instructions properly. Please let me know how it works out for you.

  4. Edward Hutchins

    Hi Michael,
    In need of some real help. I started growing some Carolina reapers about 3 moths ago, which in reterospect seems a bit early now. Despite this, my plants seemed to sprout and grow to about 5 or 6 inches fine at a windowsill. It seems now that their growth has been stunned. Some of the tips of the leaves have turned black, and all of the leaves are falling off. They are receiving about 12 hours of sunlight/day at the moment. Cheers.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Edward, sorry to hear. Issues like this can happen for a number of reasons, including disease, over watering, under watering, using too much fertilizer. It’s obviously the sign of an unhealthy plant. The issues are magnified in pots because the growing environment is so much smaller. You might try repotting them with different soil, or moving them outside to grow, if possible. Not sure of your location. Let me know how it goes.

  5. Hi. I live in England and it’s mid-April. The temperature is in mid teens. Should I plant my chilli’s (about 5 inches tall) in post or directly into the ground soil?

    Thanks, Matt

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Matt, the optimal temps for growing your peppers is 70-90 F (21-32 C), so sounds like you should wait for things to warm up a bit. If not possible, and the plants are strong, you can plant them into the soil. It might make sense, though, to keep them indoors a bit longer to strengthen up and for temps to rise, is possible.

  6. I was trying to get an early start on a few varieties of semi hot peppers, the plants are now surprisingly starting to flower ! I havethem under some led and fluorescent Lights I was hoping to pot them up to bigger pots as there just in the solo cups but now I’m not sure what to do , we still have another month before I can plant them outside, do you think I should pinch off the flowers or pot them up and see what happens ! Great site thanks 🌶

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      If the plants are small, Richard, pinching off the leaves will give them time to strengthen up. Any pods that grow now would be quite small, as the plant couldn’t really support much. I’d probably pinch them off. Let me know how it goes.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Yes, you can do that. But you might want to start with a smaller pot and move it/them into the larger bucket.

  7. Chillihead Scottish Variant

    Out of interest, is sunlight absolutely necessary? I live in Scotland and it can be overcast here for days of weeks or even months on end, regardless of season. Are there any viable alternatives to natural sunlight which can produce similar results?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sunlight is quite important in growing chili peppers and other types of plants. I think you’d be able to grow something there, but not sure how strong the plants would be or how much fruit they would produce. There are artificial lights that can be purchased for growing peppers indoors you might check out. Something like that might be helpful. Or perhaps a green house with lighting inside.

  8. Hello,
    I started growing peppers for the first time.. I followed some of tips from shopkeeper in my country.. I put peppers in container and covered them with transparent plastic sheet, watered them 2 times in 3 days.. First when I put them in soil and second time after 3 days.. Now I can see some white or gray layer on some holes on soil.. Can you tell me something more about that and how to stop that?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Ivanda, it could be a form of white mold growing on the soil. You can drizzle in some apple cider vinegar or some baking soda to act as an anti-fungal. They won’t harm the plant, if that is the issue. Let me know if this helps.

  9. This is a great guide! I live in an apartment,and was hoping to grow them indoors. Is there any particular advice for growing them in a smaller container that could sit on a table indoors? Thankfully direct sunlight is not a problem

  10. Good morning! I’m growing Chilli peppers for the first time as a part of an informal competition, and I’m wondering if you have any specific or further tips to help with getting the largest harvest you can over a season 😀 Any advice is welcome! How long should I be pinching off flowers?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Fish emulsion works best for my garden, Erinn. Just make sure your soil is as good as it can be, and water properly. For pinching, do so for the first 2-3 weeks to allow the plants to focus energy on developing strong roots and leaves. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Kat, usually you only need to fertilize early, then when peppers start to produce, but a bit more if growing in pots.

  11. Hi, Mike! Two questions–

    1. I was hoping to buy one of your cookbooks directly from you, but when I click the link, it goes nowhere. Can you advise?

    2. I have an Apache chili, a Tabasco and a Naga viper in a south-east facing window. I brought them in from the greenhouse this week, because this is western Canada and it snowed yesterday. My question is, I have already taken a good harvest off of the Apache and Naga Viper, but they keep producing! How long can I expect this harvest to continue? (By the way, this is not a complaint. I love it!)

    Thanks for a great website with tonnes of information!

    Anne

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Anne. About the books, I had to remove some links so it’s best to buy them currently through BN.com or Amazon. Sorry about that.

      For the plants, it’s GREAT that they are still producing. You can expect them to keep going another month or so, provided they have plenty of sunlight and warmth, and are watered properly as they have been. Sometimes they stifle in pots, though, especially if growing conditions change. You might be able to overwinter them. They’ll go more dormant in the winter, but can stay alive in the pots with good conditions, might even bear some fruit, and could potentially become active again in the spring. Let me know how it goes for you! You might consider getting some grow lights if you wanted to keep pushing the plant. I hope this helps!

  12. What info could you give with regard to
    “Small 1/8 to 1/4 inch hole in peppers does not appear in all peppers – as well , do all Annaheim peppers stay green.

    One other request please – Where to find recipes for their use.

    Thanks. Lloyd

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Lloyd, if you see holes, you’ve most likely got some sort of work or caterpillar. They could be laying eggs in the peppers, so I would avoid eating them. Just toss them. Also, Anaheim peppers will turn red as they mature. You can find some of my Anaheim Pepper Recipes here, but realistically, you can use Anaheims for many of my Chili Pepper Recipes on the site.

  13. Hi there. Thanks for this article. I have a scotch bonnet plant purchased at a local nursery. It has lots of firm, green fruit on it but now some of the largest ones have started changing to a brownish color and getting pretty soft. I cut the first one off because I thought it was diseased. I left a couple on the plant and they have turned bright red and have firmed up somewhat but they’re still softer than I am used to. I have not been gardening long (this is my first pepper harvest ever!) but I have jalapeno and bell peppers (grown from seed) also that are firm throughout the maturing and harvest so I wasn’t sure if the plant is messed up or if this is normal. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks. PS I am in Las Vegas, no pest issues, 5 gal self-watering container if this info sheds more light.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      MomTom, it sounds like you might have Blossom End Rot, which is a calcium deficiency. Are you experiencing high temperatures? You might want to look into adding some calcium to your soil. Let me know if this helps.

  14. Renate Fuchsluger

    I love your chilirezepts and I want to cook very much .Also I like hot-sosse rezepts.Lovely Greets from Austria

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