Flag this photoThe species Capsicum annum includes the varieties of peppers best known to U.S. growers: sweet types such as bell and sweet banana peppers and hot peppers such as cayenne and jalapeno. The many types of peppers within the species bring more than flavor to the table. They offer color, shape and size options and ornamental varieties that can dress up your planters. Because they are tender plants that thrive in the high temperatures of warm-season gardens, getting peppers started is one of the trickier parts of growing these plants.Related Searches:Difficulty:ModerateInstructions Things You'll NeedNursery plants or pepper seedSupplemental heat sourceBlack plastic mulchRow coversStarter solution fertilizer33-0-0 fertilizerSuggest Edits1
Purchase nursery-grown plants for transplant into your garden, or start your own seeds indoors, six to eight weeks before the last frost date for your area. Provide supplemental heat for your seeds, as temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit will encourage germination. Sow pepper seeds 1/4 inch deep, whether planting indoors or out. Provide a bright light source for your seedlings to prevent legginess in your plants. By starting your own seeds, you will have access to a wider range of pepper varieties.2
Select an outdoor growing site with well-drained soil and full sun. Harden your plants off over a period of one to two weeks. Set your plants out after all danger of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures remain above 55 F. Cooler temperatures cause yellowing of leaves, poor pollen production and loss of blooms, so cover the ground with black plastic mulch. It serves a dual purpose -- preventing weeds and helping to warm the soil. Use row covers to protect your plants from wind damage and to hold warm air around your plants until they establish themselves.3
Perform a soil test to determine if there are any nutrient deficiencies in your garden. Lacking a test, apply a starter solution fertilizer before planting your peppers 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on the variety, and in rows two to three feet apart. Side-dress the plants with a 33-0-0 fertilizer at a rate of 3 tablespoons for each 10-foot row after your plants set peppers.4
Water your plants deeply, to a depth of 6 inches, particularly during fruiting. Provide supplemental water if necessary to supply plants with the equivalent of 1 to 2 inches of rain each week. Moisture is crucial for the proper development of fruits on your plants.Tips & Warnings
Wait three to four years before planting peppers in the same space as other members of the Solanaceae family, such as tomatoes and eggplant, due to diseases passed among these crops.
Suggest itemReferencesUniversity of Illinois Extension: HortAnswers: PepperColorado State University Extension; Peppers and Eggplant; J.E. Ells; April 2007Clemson Cooperative Extension; Pepper; Robert J. Dufault, et al.; April 2003Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension: PepperCornell Cooperative Extension; Vegetable Growing Guide: Pepper; Nora Teter; 2009University of Arizona; Arizona Master Gardener Manual: Vegetable Garden: Selected Vegetable Crops: Peppers; 1998Virginia Cooperative Extension; Potatoes, Peppers and Eggplant; Diane Relf, et al.Utah State University Cooperative Extension; Peppers in the Garden; Dan Drost; June 2010ResourcesNorth Carolina Cooperative Extension; Poisonous Plants: Capsicum Annum (Longum Group); Dr. Alice B. Russell, et al.Washington State University Extension; Hardening Off Transplants; Holly S. KennellNorth Dakota State University; Spice Up the Garden; Sarah D. KeizerPhoto Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty ImagesRead Next: Print this articleCommentsFollow eHowFollow
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