Will My Pepper Plants Stay Alive Under 50 Degrees?
Peppers are plants that can be classified as very sensitive when it comes to dipping temperatures. Pepper plants of any variety quite frankly like it hot—whether they're chili peppers or sweet peppers. While it's not at all difficult to grow peppers, the trick is getting them to survive in difficult conditions, because they don't like wide fluctuations in temperature. They typically like a hot growing season, and they especially like the ground to stay nice and warm—especially when they are flowering and bearing fruit.
This article will provide various tips and tricks to help you salvage your peppers, even when the temperature drops.
Planting and Caring Tips for Peppers
Peppers like to be planted in loose, well-drained soil at least two weeks after the last predicted frost—and don't forget to supply fertilizers with potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen to give them a good start. Then feed regularly according to the fertilizer's directions.
You can start peppers from seed. But keep in mind that if you have a short growing season anyway, by the time you get your plant into the ground, it may be just in time to only get a small return on your efforts.
Select plants that are grown in your own locale for the best success. Most varieties found in home improvement stores or grocery store settings are shipped in from parts unknown, which likely have a completely different climate than where they are planted. To get the best start, plants should be hardened to the climate where they will grow.
If you have an unpredictable climate, a great way to plant peppers is in large containers. This gives them plenty of room to spread out and also affords the grower the ability to move them to warmer locations like a garage or inside the house if frost threatens.
Another great spot to plant peppers is along the side of a house, garage, or shed where they receive blazing sunshine. The added protection of the house should keep them from "wilting" from cooler winds.
How to Help Peppers Thrive Under 50 Degrees
If the plants are in the ground and the forecast is for temperatures below 50 degrees, thy need to be covered. Try these simple ideas:
- Mulch with straw, pine needles, or regular garden mulch to keep the plant roots warm.
- Cover with a paper sack, but try to get the entire plant covered down to the root. You can use plastic bags the same way, using wood stakes to hold the bags in place over the plants. Yet another option is to wrap the plants in newspaper (or newspaper followed by plastic) and secure with clothespins. Try to cover the entire plant, however, not just the top.
- Use sheets or tarps to cover the plants before the temperature drops and hold in place with rocks or stakes.
- Many people who grow peppers use black plastic mulch throughout the growing season to retain warmth around the plant's base and then use plastic covers as the plant matures.
- Planting in raised beds can keep peppers warmer in times of dropping temperatures. Covers are easily added to raised beds as well to keep in warmth.
- Transferring to a greenhouse is a great idea for those with short growing seasons.
Frost Threats for Very Tender Vegetables
Peppers are one of the vegetables listed on the not-so-hardy in cooler temperatures list. That makes them classified as not only a "tender" vegetable but a VERY tender vegetable.
Some of other veggie and herb companions on the list include:
- Hot peppers or sweet peppers
- Winter squash
- Lima beans
These vegetables are not big fans of cool winds either. They all prefer temperatures of about 60 degrees and above during the day but really become vibrant in temps of 70–95 degrees. If the temperatures stay below 55 degrees for several days to a week, it's usually goodbye crop.
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 Audrey Kirchner