Homegrown peppers, be they hot or sweet, are a favorite of vegetable gardeners everywhere. Once established, peppers are low maintenance, productive and attractive additions to any garden. And we’re not just talking about traditional vegetable beds. Most peppers can also thrive in pots and, if you follow these growing tips, will soon become the stars of your container garden too.
1. What peppers are best for growing in a pot?
Pick the right pepper:
While almost any pepper can be grown in a pot, the more compact varieties will do the best.
- Most chili peppers fall into this category, and many of these are considered ornamental as well, as easy on the eye as they are tasty (and fiery) on the tongue.
- Among the sweet bell peppers, try ‘Mini Red Bell’, bell pepper ‘Tinker Bell’, or dwarf bell pepper ‘Mohawk’.
2. What container size is needed to grow a pepper plant?
Make sure your container is large enough:
Peppers like to have room for their roots to spread. Choose a pot at least 14 inches in diameter. Your pepper transplant will look lost in such a bit pot at first, but the plant will soon fill out its new home.
3. What’s the best temperature for growing peppers?
Peppers love the heat:
Don’t set your potted pepper outside until daytime temperatures are regularly above 70 degrees F and nighttime temperatures don’t fall below 60 degrees F. Place it in a spot that gets at least six hours of full sun a day (more is better).
4. What’s the best soil for potted peppers?
Choose a potting mix for large pots:
It is important that the soil drains well so that the soil doesn’t compact and restrict root growth.
5. Do pepper plants need support?
Provide adequate support, if necessary:
If you decide to go with a standard-sized pepper, place a tomato cage around the plant before it gets big enough to need it, just as you would if growing in a garden bed. Pepper stems are easily broken or damaged, both by heavy fruits and by clumsy attempts to stake the plant up when it’s already full-grown.
6. How often do potted pepper plants need water?
Peppers do like hot temperatures, but they don’t like to be thirsty. The soil in potted plants tends to dry out quickly. Check your peppers every day and water if the top half to one inch of the soil is dry.
7. What fertilizer do pepper plants in containers need?
Peppers are heavy feeders and do well with regular (according to the label) feeding with an organic water-soluble or slow-release fertilizer designed for tomatoes. If you notice signs of nutrient deficiency, such as discoloration of the areas around leaf veins, your plants need more nourishment.
8. When are peppers ready to be picked?
Give your peppers a chance to ripen:
Most bell peppers take well into fall start turning from green to red, yellow, orange or purple. These bright hues are not only more attractive on the table, but are sweeter and contain more vitamins than green peppers. That said, pepper plants can’t withstand even a mild frost, so be ready to move your potted peppers inside or cover them at night should they still be green as colder weather approaches.
The most difficult thing about growing peppers in pots may be deciding which of the many delicious types to plant first. Luckily, we have a guide to peppers to help you with that.