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How to Grow Peppercorns Like an Expert

Jana likes to grow stuff, exercise, snack, and explore creative projects as a means to relax and grow.

Peppercorns have many beneficial uses.

Peppercorns have many beneficial uses.

Who Wants to Grow Peppercorn Plants?

The vine is cultivated for its looks and fruit. Ah, the fruit. Shoppers who frequent the spice aisle know that peppercorns have three colours. The red, white, and black corns are different stages of the same fruit. But black peppercorns, which are immature dried fruit, are the main reason why the plant is grown by spice-lovers.

Additionally, it’s a lovely plant. As a vine and valuable spice, peppercorn is a special pot plant for container gardeners who want to add something unusual to their collection.

What Are Peppercorns Used For?

Peppercorns are used to add flavour to dishes. Indeed, the taste of freshly ground black pepper, not to mention the scent, is very addictive. In a legal way, of course! For hundreds of years, the spice was so prized that it counted as currency. These days, peppercorns are used in sauces, hamburger patties, salads, pasta, sandwiches, and many more.

Peppercorns are also used as a remedy. Ailments treated with this spice include arthritis, stomach issues, sinus, scabies, and even depression.

Can I Grow Peppercorns at Home?

Yes, you can grow peppercorns at home! The plant is a tropical creature but very adaptable. When given the necessities, it can adapt to any home no matter where you live. All a peppercorn vine needs to flourish are partial shade, warm temperatures, and enough space. Indeed, space is very important. A peppercorn plant can grow a whopping 4.6 m (15 ft) long!

How to Grow Peppercorns From Seed

You can grow peppercorns from seed purchased at a retailer but not the fruit that you find in the spice aisle. Those berries are no longer “alive.” Once you have your seeds, you only need to do a few things to grow your own pepper vines.

  1. Gather pots and well-draining soil.
  2. Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for a day.
  3. Fill the pots with soil.
  4. Plant the seeds roughly half a cm (a quarter-inch) deep.
  5. Plant the seeds 5 cm (2 in) apart.
  6. Mist the soil gently until the earth is moist.
  7. Provide consistent temperatures of 24 – 29 °C (75 – 85 °F).
  8. Mist when the soil is dry.
  9. Your seedlings will appear in about a week or so.
Tall black pepper vines.

Tall black pepper vines.

How to Grow Peppercorns From Cuttings

You can grow peppercorns from cuttings too. The process is simple and the cuttings are easy to care for.

  1. Gather pots, well-draining soil, and scissors.
  2. Fill the pots with soil.
  3. Choose a healthy and mature pepper plant.
  4. Make sure the scissors are sharp and clean.
  5. Identify the secondary runners on the pepper plant.
  6. From these, take cuttings that have one or two leaves.
  7. Use one pot per cutting.
  8. Plant the cutting. You can add trellis to keep the plant stable.
  9. Mist around the cutting until the soil is moist.
  10. Move the cuttings to an indoor location where they can enjoy consistent warmth (their temperature needs are the same as seeds).
  11. The cuttings are ready for bigger pots or the outside world when they have 4 to 7 leaves.

How to Take Care of Your Peppercorn Plant

Taking care of your peppercorn plant is easy once you master the basics. Keep it within its desired temperatures, water and fertilize every two or three weeks, and you should be a successful mini peppercorn farmer!

But the most important thing to remember is that the peppercorn plant’s worst enemy is cold. When temperatures sink below 18 °C (65 °F), the plant starts to die and frost kills it outright. Your vines will also flourish if you mulch them twice a year.

When Will My Peppercorn Plant Produce Fruit?

Your peppercorn plant will produce fruit within two or three years. Unfortunately, it takes a while to enjoy your own crop. The upside is that a peppercorn plant can live for a long time and once it starts producing fruit, you’ll have your own fresh supply every spring or summer.

Managing Peppercorn-Loving Pests

You can avoid a lot of heartache by treating your peppercorn plants with an organic insecticide. Prevention is better than cure, as worn as this cliche is. But apart from insects, like lace bugs and mealybugs, peppercorn plants are also vulnerable to fungal problems. These can be prevented by allowing enough space between plants, avoiding overwatering, and also by applying a non-toxic fungicide every now and again.

Within 2-3 years, you'll have your own crop of peppercorn.

Within 2-3 years, you'll have your own crop of peppercorn.

Precautions When Using Peppercorns

Since black pepper remains one of the most widely used spices in the world, it’s important to realize that it can, in some cases, be harmful. It’s considered safe in low doses but avoid the spice if any of the following applies to you.

  • A sensitive stomach.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding.
  • Diabetes.
  • Bleeding conditions.
  • Patients preparing for surgery and post-surgery patients.
  • If you’re using Lithium, Phenytoin (Dilantin), Propranolol (Inderal), Rifampin, Carbamazepine (Tegretol), and Theophylline.

Happy Planting!

Growing your own peppercorn plant is easy. They reproduce readily from seeds and cuttings and their care requirements aren’t too exotic. While the years one must wait for the first harvest is a drawback, you can look forward to years of summer crops once your vines start to produce berries. As with all other herbs and spices, black pepper also has a few contraindications that diabetics, surgery patients and new mothers, among others, need to be aware of.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jana Louise Smit


Abby Slutsky from America on July 24, 2020:

I do not have a green enough thumb, but I think this is interesting. I never thought about the work that goes into growing peppercorns.