Growing Peppers In Planters: How To Grow Pepper Plants In A Container
By: Heather Rhoades
Peppers, especially chili peppers, hold a special place in many gardens. These vibrant and delicious vegetables are fun to grow and can also be decorative. Just because you don’t have a garden to grow peppers doesn’t mean that you can’t grow them. Plus, when you grow peppers in pots, they can double as decorative plants on your patio or balcony.
Growing Peppers in Containers
Container garden peppers need two important things: water and light. These two things will determine where you will grow pepper plants in a container. First, your peppers will need five or more hours of direct sunlight. The more light they can get, the better they will grow. Second, your pepper plant is entirely dependent on you for water, so make sure that your container growing pepper plant is located somewhere that you will be able to easily get water to it on a daily basis.
When planting your pepper plant into the container, use organic, rich potting soil; don’t use regular garden soil. Regular garden soil can compact and harm the roots while potting soil will stay aerated, giving the roots room to grow well.
As mentioned, a pepper plant will need to get nearly all of its water from you. Because the roots of a pepper plant cannot spread out into the soil to look for water (like they would if they were in the ground), the plants need to be watered frequently. You can expect to water your pepper plant in a container at least once a day when the temperature is above 65 F. (18 C.) and twice a day when the temperatures rise above 80 F. (27 C.)
Pepper plants are self-pollinating, so they don’t technically need pollinators to help them set fruit, but pollinators can help the plant set more fruit than it normally would. If you’re growing peppers in planters in a location that could be difficult for bees and other pollinators to get to, like a high balcony or an enclosed porch, you may want to try hand pollinating your pepper plants. This can be done one of two ways. First, you can give each pepper plant a gentle shake a few times a day while it is in bloom. This helps the pollen distribute itself to the plant. The other is to use a small paint brush and swirl it inside each open blossom.
Container garden peppers can be fertilized with compost tea or a slow release fertilizer once a month.
Growing peppers in containers can be fun, and makes these tasty vegetables available to many gardeners who don’t have a traditional, in-the-ground garden.
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How to Grow Peppers in Containers – The City Garden
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No garden? No problem! Did you know you can grow peppers in containers? You can have a full garden right there on your patio this summer.
When it comes to gardening and growing your own food there really aren’t any rules. No more is it required for you to have acres of land or even a huge backyard so you can give your family a kitchen full of fresh veggies.
All you need is some dirt, a pot, and a few seeds.
Yes, it’s true you can grow just about anything anywhere and that is great news. Whether that be in a pot or other container, as long as you have good fresh soil, plenty of sunshine and the right amount of water you can have a full garden right outside you back door.
The most important thing to remember when you grow your produce in containers is water. With the limited space found in a container, things can dry out pretty quickly. Forget to water things just one day and you can damage your plants just from the heat of the sun. It is best to get yourself on a good schedule to ensure your plants never dry out.
The best time to water your garden or container plants is in the morning. This will encourage a healthier pepper plant and it will also avoid evaporation that the sun can do if you water in the afternoon. Also, you will want to avoid watering your pepper plants in the evening unless you absolutely have to. Watering at night will encourage diseases and even pests. Night waterings tend to leave the plant’s leaves wet for a longer period of time. This can, in turn, make those leaves vulnerable to fungus. To prevent this from happening it is good practice to water in the mornings.
If you love foods that are spicy and hot, then peppers are probably on your list of go-to staples found in your kitchen. Adding a few varieties of this wonderful vegetable is a great way to round out your patio container garden.
Since a pepper’s plant characteristics are very similar to tomatoes they pair nicely together and even look great on any porch.
Hot Peppers varieties of hot environments can also bloom in the shed, but the smaller and thinner varieties grow much better. The small variety of peppers also matures very rapidly, where the summer is very short. The color of peppers changes from green to yellow, orange, or red, they keep improving vitamins and flavors dramatically in their own way.
Scientific name Capsicum annum
Soil Rich soil/ acidic soil
Planting Jalapeno Seeds (Germination)
Planting seeds is easy. However, there are some important things to know before slapping some seeds in a pot of soil. Namely, the ideal timing and the environment of the germination.
When To Plant Jalapenos
For most Northern Hemisphere growers, you will want to plant jalapeno seeds around 2-2.5 months before the last chance of frost. This will give the plants enough time to grow to maturity and maximize yields before the end of the growing season.
See when to plant peppers for every climate zone here.
Use this free tool to enter your postal code and determine when to plant.
We live in the Northeast US and we plant most of our pepper seeds in early March. Some jalapeno varieties mature more quickly so you may be able to get away with planting a few weeks later.
How To Plant Jalapeno Seeds
Jalapeno peppers usually germinate without issue. Other varieties may require special methods for better germination, but usually not jalapenos.
Fill some seed trays with pre-moistened seed starter soil and plant 2-3 seeds in each cell. The depth should be approximately 0.5 cm with just a light covering of soil. Water thoroughly after planted.
To give your seeds the best chance of germination, use the following tips:
- Keep the soil moist and humid. These seed trays come with a humidity dome to keep the soil from drying out too fast. Fan out the tray and spray with water about once per day.
- Keep the soil very warm. The ideal temperature for pepper seed germination is about 80°F. If you have a cold house, you can use a seed heating mat (we love ours).
How Long For Jalapenos To Germinate?
Jalapenos will typically sprout within 4-7 days. This will vary based on the age of the seeds, and the conditions under which they are germinated.
Once your seeds sprout, they will want lots and lots of light. A sunny window won’t be enough to grow the best plants.
Get a grow light and give the seedlings 12-16 hours of light per day starting immediately after sprouting.
Growing Peppers in Pots
To grow these peppers for patio pots, choose a container that holds at least three gallons of potting soil. Work a few shovels full of compost into the pot before planting, and make sure there’s a drainage hole in the bottom.
After planting, locate the pots where they’ll receive a minimum of six to eight hours of full sun per day. Water the plants daily during hot weather and make sure they don’t dry out or blossom end rot could be the result.
Fertilize every two weeks with a water soluble liquid organic fertilizer and keep the plants regularly harvested in order to generate new fruits.
Growing Peppers In Pots
Whether you're after a sweet red bell or a fiery habanero, you can grow peppers without any garden space at all! Capsicum annum is an excellent candidate for growing in containers. They thrive under the right conditions. Give them some high-quality soil and a little sun, and they will produce year after year.
The soil quality will determine the success of your plants. It is all they have to live in and the only source of initial nutrients. Choose an organic potting soil that is well-draining and rich in nutrients. Drainage is important to peppers. The soil must be able to hold enough moisture but drain the excess.
If you are unsure about the quality or cannot find organic potting soil, you can make some. Mix a 50/50 batch of peat and compost. Other additives that will benefit your plants include:
- Composted manure
- Sea Kelp
Make sure the container you choose drains easily out the bottom. Line the bottom with rocks to avoid losing soil out of drainage holes. While a pepper plant cannot be in too big of a container, it can be convenient to start it in small containers and transplant it as it grows to save space.
For plants 12 inches tall and smaller, a two-gallon pot will work fine. Larger plants should be in five-gallon containers, and even larger plants may need ten-gallon containers. Some gardeners like to over-winter pepper plants keeping them as perennials for years. The plants reach formidable sizes and require very large pots.
The goal is to keep soil evenly moist but not wet. You can mulch containers to trap moisture in hot environments, and trim plants to encourage airflow in wet environments.
In temperatures of 65°F (18°C) plants will likely need daily watering. If it rises to 80°F (26°C) or above, they may need water twice a day.
During a vegetative growth phase which comes before flowering, feed pepper plants every other week with a well-balanced organic fertilizer. Compost tea, seaweed extract, or fish emulsion all provide excellent nutrients.
When the plant begins to flower, it prefers less nitrogen and more phosphorus. A vermicompost top dressing or tea application goes a long way during the flowering phase.
It’s common for pepper plants to require support. They may become top heavy or weighed down with fruit. Use stakes or cages to support droopy limbs and hold the plant upright.
Guard pets, children, and yourself against the volatile oils in hot chili peppers. Just brushing past plants can cause severe irritation. Use gloves when handling them.
Pepper Growing Tips
Peppers are members of the Nightshade Family, along with tomatoes and eggplants, and thus similar in culture. However, there are a few differences when it comes to peppers. Peppers are more susceptible to cold damage than tomatoes. Never rush to transplant pepper seedlings to the garden, and always make sure all danger of frost and cold weather has passed.
Plant peppers with 18 inches between plants and 2 feet between rows. For each pepper plant, dig a hole approximately 6 inches deep and incorporate 2 inches of organic matter into the soil at the bottom of the hole. Set the pepper seedlings lower in the ground than they were in their pots. After transplanting, water thoroughly.
Peppers thrive best in soils rich in organic matter, with adequate moisture. Grow pepper plants in a full sun location, where they receive at least 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. In northern gardens, putting down black weed control fabric or plastic mulch can provide hotter growing conditions peppers like.
Common Pepper Problems
Peppers can develop blossom end rot, a localized calcium deficiency in the fruit. Because calcium moves passively in plants as they take up water, ensure that there are not large moisture fluctuations in the soil to help prevent blossom end rot. Additional calcium can also be applied as a foliar spray or soil drench, using a product like Nutri-Cal Liquid Calcium.
Staking, Weeding, & Mulching Peppers
Staking can be beneficial since pepper plants are brittle. Cultivate often, but not deeply, when weeding to avoid causing root damage. In addition, you can mulch to help prevent weed germination and the loss of moisture.
Harvesting Pepper Plants
To harvest your pepper plants, snap pepper fruits off or cut them off with a knife to prevent damage to plants. Harvest the peppers throughout the season to encourage the pepper plants to continue to set more peppers. Allowing the peppers to ripen on the pepper plants improves the quality and flavor, so you may want to allow some to full ripen on the pepper plants before harvesting while picking some of them throughout the season. With proper care, your pepper plants can produce until frost.
At the end of the season, pick any remaining pepper fruits before the first hard frost. Peppers can be kept on the kitchen counter for a few days to ripen further, but if you have too many peppers to use right away, consider freezing them, canning your peppers, or drying them. Your local extension service should have helpful information on home pepper freezing and pepper canning.
Trying to determine what type of pepper to grow? Check out our 17 Flavorful Pepper Types article.
Jung Seed has a wide variety of pepper seeds and pepper plants. For more varieties, be sure to visit our sister website Totally Tomatoes.