How to Grow Lots of Sweet and Hot Peppers

Updated on June 26, 2018
Barbara Kay profile image

I have enjoyed gardening for at least 30 years and enjoy sharing my experience with others. Gardening is my time to meditate and unwind.

Green, red, and yellow bell peppers.
Green, red, and yellow bell peppers. | Source

Both sweet peppers and hot peppers are easy to grow with just a little care. With the right summer weather, you'll get more than you can use. Here you'll find how to grow these beauties without using chemicals.

Peppers are good for your health. Surprisingly, they have more Vitamin C than citrus fruit. They also contain high amounts of Vitamin A, E, and B1.

Hot peppers raise the metabolic rate of the dinner and help to burn more calories. Hot peppers can help dissolve blood clots and help prevent strokes and heart attacks. They are also great for helping to relieve congestion from a cold. They even raise your endorphins and help improve your mood.

Pepper Varieties

There are two types of peppers, the sweet peppers and the hot ones. The sweet peppers are mild, and the hot ones can be a little hot to very hot. They come in a large range of shapes and sizes.

Of the sweet ones, bell peppers are the most recognized variety. But there are also Lamuyo European sweet peppers, Italian bullhorn, pimento ,and many others.

The hot peppers are available in so many different varieties, ranging form mildly hot to so hot they burn all the way down. Some of the extra hot ones are cayenne, serrano, red chili, and Thai. They are smaller in size than the sweet ones.

The capsaicin in the pepper is what causes the heat. The more capsaicin in the pepper, the hotter it will be. In large enough quantities, it can cause stomach ulcers. So use care when trying the very hot ones.

Banana peppers before harvest.
Banana peppers before harvest. | Source

How to Plant From Seed—Indoors

If you want to grow peppers from seed, you'll want to plant them indoors about 50-70 days before your last frost date. Plant 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep in pots or flats in light soil. If using flats, plant the seed at least 1 inch apart. You can use styrofoam or yogurt cups, or whatever you can find around the house that you are able to poke holes in the bottom for good drainage. Be sure to mark your containers if you are growing different varieties. When young, all the plants will look alike, and you won't know which is which, since they all look the same.

While they are germinating, keep the soil at a 75-95 degrees. You can accomplish this by using a heating pad. Growing them on the top of a dryer or refrigerator works well too. The soil needs to be kept moist once the seeds are planted. You can purchase the plastic tops that go over flats to accomplish this. If you are using small containers, I've used plastic wrap and it worked well. Wrap the plastic tightly around the top. Only use warm water when watering.

Once the peppers are about 2 inches tall, transplant them in a larger container about 2 inches apart. You'll need lots of light once the seed has germinated. Use a grow light or a sunny southern window. When placing in a window, be sure the glass isn't too cold or you'll shock the baby plants.

How to Plant From Seed—Outdoors

Once all danger of frost is past in your area, plant your seedlings outdoors as soon as possible. Peppers like a light soil that drains well. Sandy soil with organic matter is good. If you have heavy clay, you are going to have to mix it with other soil.

You don't want a lot of nitrogen in the soil. One year, I learned this lesson well. I planted bell peppers in nitrogen-rich compost made up of grass clippings. I thought I'd get a good harvest with all the nutrition for the plants. I ended up with 6 feet tall pepper plants that didn't bear a single fruit. I'm not kidding. These plants were like healthy shrubs and just as wide as they were tall. Small plants bear more peppers than the large ones, so you don't want a big plant that you can brag about.

Plant in full sun about 18" apart. Most varieties of hot pepper plants stay smaller than the sweets, so these can be planted closer. Place the rows 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart.

If you don't have a lot of space, peppers are ornamental looking plants. So they can even be grown among your flowers. The leaves are waxy and shiny, and they yield little white blossoms. Some of the hot peppers are colorful and would add a beautiful touch among your ornamentals.

Mulching the plants will help. Peppers like to be kept moist, or else the blossoms will drop. Mulching will help keep the moisture in the soil. It will keep the roots cooler too, if the summer gets too hot.

Planting in containers is a good idea. How much soil will be needed will be what decides how big of a pot you will need. Smaller peppers will need about 2 gallons of soil. Most plants, except the extra tall ones, will need at least 3 gallons of soil. If you plant more than one plant in the container, be sure to space at least 18 inches apart and use more soil.

Purchasing Pepper Plants

Plants that are about six weeks old are best. Don't look for the biggest plant in the store. Look for healthy, dark green plants without spots or damage.

How to Care for Your Plant

There are some conditions that you just don't have any control over. If it gets too hot and dry, the peppers don't like this and will drop their blossoms. A cool weather period can cause the plants to keep from blooming.

Using a hoe is the best way to control weeds. Only hoe about 1 inch deep, so you don't disturb the plant's roots.

Keep the plants watered. A deep watering once a week should be enough. Even a short dry spell can cause the blossoms to drop off the plant. Reapply mulch if needed to help keep in the moisture.

If the plant gets large, caging will help the stem from breaking either from the weight of the plant or from the wind. For shorter plants, this isn't necessary.

Tips for Harvesting

When picking hot peppers, wear rubber gloves. These can burn your hands. When preparing the peppers, do the same. If you put your hands up to your face, you'll have a burning face you'll never forget.

The sweet bell peppers can be picked green or red. Some varieties turn yellow, white, or purple depending on the variety. The darker the color at harvest, the sweeter the pepper will be. Pick the fruit about an inch above the stem.

When you hear the first fall frost is expected, either pick the fruit off the plants or pull up the entire plant. You can hang it upside down in a protected place and let the peppers ripen.

Saving Pepper Seeds

The fruit of any pepper can be saved, unless it is a hybrid. If you'd like to try this, only save seeds from heirloom varieties. Sweet peppers are self-fertile and pollinated by insects, so they will cross with other pepper plants. If you want to save the seed, you should keep different varieties at least 20 feet apart so they don't cross pollinate.

Allow the fruit to completely ripen. Leave it on the plant until it shrivels a bit. If it has begun to get cold in your area, bring the peppers inside to finish ripening. Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds. Remove the pul, dry, and store.

Questions & Answers

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      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        4 years ago from USA

        Jacksson47, Someone may find this and it will really prevent some pain. I can believe how those hot peppers can burn so bad. Thanks for sharing. I might add that into the rest of the info.

      • jacksson47 profile image

        John Reeder 

        4 years ago from Reedley, CA

        Hello Barbara Kay, I like Cayenne Peppers and this year I had about 15 plants. I had plates of drying peppers all over the house during the growing season. A few weeks ago, it was time to grind the dry peppers. I typically grind about 10 Cayennes at a time with one Habanero to add a little heat and flavor. Anyway, this year I made a mistake; I know about never touching the eyes, etc., but after picking the stem ends off of hundreds of the peppers barehanded, I had to go to the bathroom. And that is where I made my mistake, yes, I touched my male appendage without thinking; the pain was intense and I didn't want to tell my wife how foolish I was, so I tried various methods to alleviate the pain without initial success, i.e. water, colloidal silver water, etc and then I took a shower. The heat of the water made the pain even worse and then I solved the problem. I coated the area with some virgin coconut oil and the pain subsided almost immediately. So I learned two lessons (or three), wear gloves, don't touch tender spots, and use VCO if there is a problem. BTW, my cayenne powder sure does make all of my food yummy and seems to keep my heart in good shape.

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        4 years ago from USA

        Solaras, Thanks for reading and sharing.

      • Solaras profile image

        Solaras 

        4 years ago

        Great advice - thumbs up and useful! Shared!

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        5 years ago from USA

        Vinaya Ghimire, You can use your hybrid peppers to grow organically, you just can't use chemicals on them. Thanks for commenting.

      • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

        Vinaya Ghimire 

        5 years ago from Nepal

        I have grown organic vegetables but never tried peppers. Perhaps I should switch to organic from hybrid peppers.

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        5 years ago from USA

        Julie, I've heard of using the epson salts on lots of plants. I tried it one year and that must have been the year that I didn't know what to do with all the peppers, because I had so many. Thanks for reminding me of that tip. Thanks for commenting.

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        5 years ago from USA

        Learning in Life, You should give them a try. They are one vegetable I've never had any trouble with. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • JulieStrier profile image

        JulieStrier 

        5 years ago from Apopka, FL

        Great tips on growing peppers. I know what you mean about the hot ones -- learned my lesson chopping jalapenos and then forgetting to wash my hands. By bedtime they were so fiery I had to sleep with my hands in bags of ice to cool them down and get relief. Yikes.

        Have you ever heard of using epson salt to help them produce more? I read that tip on the internet somewhere, but haven't yet tried it, was just curious if someone else had experience with it? Great hub.

      • Learning in Life profile image

        Megan Smith 

        5 years ago from SW Florida

        I absolutely love bell peppers and have been wanting to plant my own for a while. I will have to save this for reference and actually do it this spring.

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        5 years ago from USA

        NornsMercy, I wrote it at just the right time then. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • NornsMercy profile image

        Chace 

        5 years ago from Charlotte, NC

        I was just telling my husband last night about how I want to grow peppers at home. Saving this one!

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        5 years ago from USA

        billybuc, Our year wasn't much better. We had a 6 week drought with only 1 rain. Oh well, most years are good. I'm hoping for a good crop this year. I hope you get one too. Thanks for reading.

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        5 years ago from USA

        Gordon, I don't think I could handle not having a garden. If I lived in Scotland a greenhouse would be a must for me. You should be a healthy guy. I was surprised how many health benefits hot peppers had. Especially that they prevent heart attacks and strokes. Thanks for commenting.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Great suggestions! We failed miserably last year and planted them outside too early. We got a frost mid-April and that ended our pepper crop for the year. We know better now. :)

      • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

        Barbara Badder 

        5 years ago from USA

        ologsinquito, Thanks for reading the hub. I'm happy you found it useful.

      • Gordon Hamilton profile image

        Gordon Hamilton 

        5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

        Hi, Barbara. Wow - this is an in-depth guide and a half! It always frustrates me that I can never grow anything at all and never have been able to, while my Dad and my brothers all have very green fingers. I love peppers of so many types and use one kind or another several times a week. The obvious problem for me - here in Scotland - is that we never reach the time of year where we are past the danger of a frost! :) On the plus side, I have a couple of local friends with greenhouses, so maybe I could rope one of them in to giving this a try this summer? I'll explore the possibility, at least.

      • ologsinquito profile image

        ologsinquito 

        5 years ago from USA

        Very useful information. It's good to see so many new hubs being published in the last couple of days.

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