Top Tips For Growing Chili Peppers
Chili Peppers are revered by some for their flavor, but feared by others for their sting. Whether you are a brave heat-seeker or just a by-stander, there are enough chili peppers to satisfy every person's palette. From Habaneros to Sweet Banana Peppers, every pepper brings it's own unique notes and flavor profiles. If you love chili peppers, growing them in your own home/garden can be an absolute joy. Chili pepper plants add lots of color and vibrancy to feast your eyes on.
The term "Chili" refers to peppers from the family Capsicum, named for the neuropeptide found in them called capsaicin. This naturally occurring chemical compound is what gives peppers their heat! The widely-varying levels of capsaicin mean that these peppers range from "not spicy at all" to "might need medical attention" kind of hot. There is even a scientific scale used to measure these heat levels. It's called the Scoville Scale and is measured in Scoville Heat Units.
Ferry-Morse offers a variety of chili pepper seeds as well as Plantlings™ living baby plants. Check out our varieties!
1. Decide On Your Heat Level
Here are some of the most common and beloved varieties along with their Scoville rankings to help you get an idea about which pepper varieties are in your comfort zone.
Banana Pepper - 0 SHU
Poblano - 1,000 SHU
Ancho - 1,500 SHU
Jalapeno - 8,000 SHU
Serrano - 22,000 SHU
Cayenne - 50,000 SHU
Tabasco - 70,000 SHU
Habanero - 325,000 SHU
Ghost Pepper - 1,000,000 SHU
2. Keep It Hot
We're not talking about the spice here. Pepper plants like a warm environment, between 75 and 90 degrees F, in a sunny place, and where it won't dip below 60 degrees F at night.
In some grow zones, this may mean a pretty short growing season. However, indoor growing is a viable option for peppers. Indoor growing of course offers more control over temperature conditions, but you'll also want to consider what size pot to use.
Use a relatively large pot for a pepper plant: about 12" inches deep and 18" in diameter, as pepper plants can grow up to 3 feet tall.
You can also use a smaller pot and transplant the pepper plant outdoors once it is partially matured and the weather has warmed up.
3. Pepper Soil
Peppers don't require any extremely particular soil conditions, however they do prefer a well-draining, slightly acidic soil, much like tomatoes and many other vegetables. The ideal soil pH for Peppers is 6.0 - 6.8.
You can commonly find Vegetable and Herb soil mixes at your local garden store and may even find specifically mixed Tomato soils which will work very well for peppers.
Using a Ferry-Morse Soil Test Kit is another smart way to ensure soil quality in your garden.
4. Watering and Fertilizing
While the seedlings are still small (less than 6 inches), water around the root zone. The soil should be kept moist, but not fully saturated. Don't let the soil dry out completely, especially in the early stages of growth. Once the peppers begin to grow, you can lighten up on your watering schedule, still avoiding complete dryness.
Using plant nutrients like SUPERthrive can also be beneficial for promoting strong root growth, especially in the early stages of growth.
5. Clip the Tips
When the first flowering buds emerge on your pepper plant, simply pinch off the buds with your hands. You can do this until the plant surpasses 6 inches tall. This will result in bushier bunches in the future because the plant will be more mature and it will be able to provide more strength and nutrients to the emerging peppers.
6. Grow From Plantlings™
If you live somewhere with a short growing season, or simply don't want to do the indoor seed-starting process, you can grow directly from Plantlings™ living baby plants. They are grown in our nursery and arrive at your door fully germinated and with strong, healthy root systems.
Get Started With Our Kits
Bring The Heat Gardening Kit
- 1 Pepper Habanero Seed Packet
- 1 Pepper Jalapeno Seed Packet
- 1 Pepper Long Thin Cayenne Seed Packet
- 1 Pepper Pasilla Bajo Seed Packet
- 1 Pepper Serrano Chili Seed Packet
- 1 Jiffy 72 Pellet Professional Greenhouse with SUPERthrive Vitamin Solution With Kelp
Salsa Gardening Kit
- 1 Pepper Jalapeno Seed Packet
- 1 Tomato Box Car Willie Heirloom Seed Packet
- 1 Cilantro Coriander (Sow Easy) Seed Packet
- 1 Onion Valencia Seed Packet
- 1 Tomatillo Purple Seed Packet
- 1 Pepper California Wonder (Sow Easy) Seed Packet
- Jiffy 72 Pellet Professional Greenhouse with SUPERthrive Vitamin Solution With Kelp
- Jiffy 16 Pellet Tomato & Vegetable Greenhouse with SUPERthrive Vitamin Solution With Kelp
- Ferry Morse