Growing Jalapeños in a Pot
If you're living in a concrete jungle but still want to have a harvest of summer crops, container gardening is here to help! With a small area, ample sunlight and a few potting containers, anything is possible. To further make fantasy into reality, our topic of discussion in this article is growing jalapeños in containers.
This popular chili pepper originating from Mexico is a perfect option for your container garden. Throughout the context of this jalapeño growing guide, you'll find crucial information on basic necessities, planting, watering, fertilizing, and harvesting your container grown chili plant. This summer, it's time to turn that wasted patio space into a productive jalapeño outlet! Learn all there is to know about growing jalapeño in a pot.
Basic Necessities of Growing Jalapeños
- Containers: If you choose to grow jalapeños from seed, you'll need a few different sizes of containers. For the most part, these can consist of recycled plastic bottles and jars, so there's no need to purchase a multitude of potting containers. However, seedling-grown and store-bought jalapeño plants both will need a final container size of at least 2 gallons. I always recommend terra cotta planters over plastic, as they help to aerate the soil more efficiently.
- Sunlight: Like most chili plants, jalapeños need ample amounts of direct sunlight to thrive. Make sure that you can provide young seedlings with 12–16 hours of direct sunlight and maturing plants with at least 8–10 hours.
- Soil and Fertilizer: Jalapeños are heavy feeders. So get off to the right start, and select a premium potting soil and all-purpose fertilizer. The ideal potting soil will be organic, high in initial nutrition, and have good drainage qualities. The selected fertilizer should also be organic and have a NPK of 10-10-10. This will ensure that your plants receive proper nutrition after they've used up the available nutrients in the soil.
How to Grow Jalapeños From Seed
Of course, you could always make a trip to your local nursery and pick up a couple of young jalapeño plants, but where's the self-satisfaction in that? Here's how to start your jalapeño garden from scratch,
Jalapeño plants both germinate and grow slowly. For this reason, it is recommended to start seedlings indoors 8–10 weeks before your average last frost.
- Depending on how many jalapeño plants you wish to grow, locate and prepare the correct number of corresponding containers. For starting jalapeño seeds, these containers can be as simple as 20 ounce colored soda bottles cut in half with a drainage hole drilled into the bottom.
- Fill the containers with your potting soil and water thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain away.
- Plant two or three seeds per container at a depth of 1/4 inch. Although you won't be growing all the seeds, planting extra can be viewed as a precaution in case a few don't germinate.
- Cover the seeds with soil and place in a warm location (75–80°F) with relatively low light. Keep the soil evenly moist, and the jalapeño seeds should germinate in 14–21 days.
If you find that your soil is drying out too quickly, drape a piece of plastic wrap loosely over the top of each container. This will act as a humidity dome that stabilizes the climate by increasing moisture levels. Seeds will germinate quicker and more successfully using this method. A store-bought seedling tray also works very well.
Of the peppers commonly available to gardeners, which ones are your favorite?
Seedling Care and Transplanting
Great! Now that you've had a few jalapeño seeds sprout, it's time to care for the seedlings. You'll be caring for the seedlings indoors until you can move them outside after all threats of frost have passed.
Here's what you'll need to do to keep your young jalapeño seedlings healthy:
- Once the seedlings have sprouted, move them to a warm and well-lit area. It is imperative that the jalapeño seedlings are not exposed to temperatures lower than 65°F. The seedlings will also need a great deal of light (optimal 14–16 hours a day). South-facing windowsills are a great option if available, but if not, artificial grow lighting will also supply the right amount of heat and light.
- Keep the soil moist, but be careful not to over water. Jalapeños enjoy a thoroughly moist soil, but can develop root rot if the soil becomes waterlogged. It's good to note that indoor plants do not need to be watered as much to maintain moisture levels. So by watering your seedlings one to two times weekly, you should be just fine!
Besides providing warmth, water and light, transplanting is another key factor for seedling growth and vigor. As the seedlings grow bigger, they're going to need more root space, so a schedule of transplanting should be followed.
Here's how I conduct my transplanting:
- Day 14: Transplant from seedling cup to 3-inch diameter flower pot.
- Day 35: Transplant from 3-inch to 5-inch diameter flower pot.
- Day 60: Transplant from 5-inch to the final 11-inch flower pot (2 Gallon).
Caring for Jalapeño Plants
At this point, I'm going to assume that all went well with the seedling stage, or that you just went ahead and bought a young plant. Either way, it's time to grow your jalapeños outdoors!
Here's what you'll need to provide your jalapeño plants with during their outdoor stay:
- Sunlight: Remember, maturing jalapeño plants need at least 8–10 hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Watering: As with the jalapeño seedlings, the maturing plants also prefer a soil that is kept thoroughly moist. Watering every other day should satisfy their moisture needs. Careful not to overwater, as it will lead to root rot.
- Fertilizing: If you choose a high-quality potting soil to grow your jalapeño plants in, they shouldn't need fertilizer until around a month after the date when they were planted in their outdoor container. Fertilize with half the recommended dose, doing so every third watering. It's much easier on the plants if you feed a diluted solution more often than a concentrated dose once or twice over their lifetime. Fertilize up until two weeks before you plan to harvest your first jalapeño pepper.
Note: If your jalapeño plants were started indoors, you will have to harden off your plants before moving them to the outdoors. This is critical to plant health.
Finally, the best part! Getting paid off for all your hard work. From seed to usable peppers, the process will take some 90–120 days. It's quite a while, but it's worth the wait.
Jalapeños can be eaten green or red. Of course, it will take the peppers extra time to ripen to a red color, thus the 120 days! It's really up to you when you want to harvest your peppers. A trick to increased productivity from your jalapeño plants is to pick the peppers during their green stage. This will force more blossoms, meaning more peppers for you.
Have you grown jalapeños before?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Zach